Eastern State Penitentiary Hosts Prison Food Weekend on Saturday and Sunday, June 6 and 7

-- Visitors sample chi chi and nutraloaf prepared by former inmates and officers --

May 27, 2015, 10:05 ET from Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site

PHILADELPHIA, May 27, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site brings back its popular Prison Food Weekend on Saturday and Sunday, June 6 and 7. On these days visitors can sample five states' versions of nutraloaf, the "food product" issued as punishment in many American prisons, as well as "chi chi," comfort food made by inmates using ingredients from prison commissary.

Courts have generally upheld the rights of prisons to serve nutraloaf, but the practice remains controversial. Freestyle BBQ, a catering company owned by correctional officer John Freeman, will create the nutraloaf samples using official recipes from five U.S. states:

  • Idaho (Breakfast Version): Most prisons serve the same punishment loaf at every meal. Idaho may be the only state with breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipes. The breakfast nutraloaf uses traditional morning foods, blending cereal, milk, toast, and even orange juice into a single baked loaf.
  • California: Inmates on a "disciplinary diet" in California jails are served this loaf twice a day. The recipe includes raw cabbage and chili powder. Inmates receive two slices of whole wheat bread and a quart of water with each serving.
  • Illinois (Vegan Option): This vegan recipe features an unlikely combination of applesauce, tomato paste, and garlic powder. Inmates at the Tamms Correctional Center sued the Illinois Department of Corrections after being served this recipe. They alleged cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment. Their suit was unsuccessful.
  • Vermont: Prisoners sued after being served this loaf, which contains non-dairy cheese and raisins. The Supreme Court ruled that inmates must be given a hearing before being placed on nutraloaf diets. Needing to revise its policies, the Vermont Department of Corrections has suspended the practice indefinitely.
  • Pennsylvania: This recipe incorporates cooked rice, dry oatmeal, and mashed garbanzo beans. In Pennsylvania, nutraloaf is called a "behavior modified meal." It may be served to an inmate for a maximum of 21 consecutive meals.

Visitors to the historic site can taste all five versions, record their thoughts on a tasting card, and decide for themselves whether serving nutraloaf is a form of cruel and unusual punishment.

Visitors can also sample chi chi, a comfort food made by inmates using ingredients from the prison commissary or vending machines. Chi chi recipes vary, but commonly include ramen noodles, chips or cheese curls, meat snacks, and sugar. Formerly incarcerated individuals will prepare the chi chi using a recipe learned during their time at SCI Graterford, the prison that replaced Eastern State Penitentiary.

Also on view will be sample menus, archival photographs, and reports of the prison food throughout Eastern State Penitentiary's 142-year operational history.

All Prison Food Weekend activities are included with standard admission. Regular daytime programs, including "The Voices of Eastern State" Audio Tour narrated by actor Steve Buscemi, guided Hands-On History tours, history exhibits, and artist installations, are also included in admission. Tickets are available online at easternstate.org/tickets, or at the door subject to availability.

About Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site

Eastern State Penitentiary was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world, but stands today in ruin, a haunting world of crumbling cellblocks and empty guard towers. Known for its grand architecture and strict discipline, this was the world's first true "penitentiary," a prison designed to inspire penitence, or true regret, in the hearts of convicts. Its vaulted, sky-lit cells once held many of America's most notorious criminals, including bank robber "Slick Willie" Sutton and Al Capone.

Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site is located at 22nd Street and Fairmount Avenue, just five blocks from the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The penitentiary is open seven days a week, year round. Admission is $14 for adults, $12 for seniors, and $10 for students and children ages 7-12. (Not recommended for children under the age of seven.) Tickets are available online at www.EasternState.org or at the door, subject to availability. Admission includes "The Voices of Eastern State" Audio Tour, narrated by actor Steve Buscemi; Hands-On History interactive experiences; history exhibits; and a critically acclaimed series of artist installations.

For more information and schedules, the public should call (215) 236-3300 or visit www.EasternState.org.

Photo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20150526/218600

SOURCE Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site