Clayton County Jail inmates had hot grits for breakfast and warm spaghetti for lunch Saturday.
The meals were a welcome change for the inmates who had not had a hot meal in more than three months.
New steam kettles were installed on Jan. 4. However, they could not be used until they were cleared by the county health department, which happened Friday.
Two hot meals a day is required by Georgia law.
In addition to the kettles -- giant pressure cookers used to make rice, potatoes and pasta -- the AJC learned on a tour provided by Sheriff Kem Kimbrough in November that the jail had been without four ovens and any skillets for about a year.
The 1,900 Clayton County inmates had to settle for bagged lunches, often bologna sandwiches and fruit. An attempt had been made by Aramark, the vendor who handles food and laundry services for the jail, to make some hot meals at an off-site location and bring them to the jail, Kimbrough said.
“But there is no way to reheat the food,” he said. “Under Georgia law, inmates are supposed to have at least two hot meals a day, and there should not be more than 14 hours between those two hot meals.”
Currently the county is in the process of completing an estimate for remodeling the kitchen floors, ceilings, repainting and equipment needed to allow the food service department to be fully operational, Sgt. S. Sanchez, Clayton County sheriff's office spokesman, said in a statement.
“The estimate is expected to be complete within the next two weeks and will be presented to the Board of Commissioners for their approval,” he said.
In addition to the grits, inmates also had beef gravy, biscuits and coffee, said Sanchez. And for lunch they had bread and cake along with their spaghetti with meat sauce. Saturday's dinner menu had not been planned.
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