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Food Service team steps up in covid crisis

Friday, October 02, 2020

VINITA, Okla. – You may not recognize their faces. They prefer being behind the scenes. But these men and women have one of the most important roles within the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. Food Service is tasked with feeding thousands of inmates, three times a day, every day.   

“We don’t take holidays or weekends off,” Compliance Manager Julie Thompson said. “Failure for us is not an option.”  

With more facilities confronted with Covid hotspots, their duties have amplified. Here at Northeast Oklahoma Community Corrections, the staff usually relies on dozens of inmates to help in the kitchen.  

“It really becomes an issue, like who’s going to load a truck,” Thompson asked. “At one facility we had a warden unloading a grocery truck. At another facility, I saw a lieutenant flip hamburgers and case workers clean steam pots.”  

And the meals must meet federal nutritional guidelines and special dietary restrictions.  

Through all the daunting obstacles and challenges, the essential staff members make no excuses. They maintain positive attitudes and find solutions to problems.  

“You don’t really know how valuable your staff is until you are in a crisis,” NOCC Deputy Warden Daniel Owens said. “What we have found is, our staff will step into any crisis to take care of the inmates.”  

Food Service is critical to our mission. Our dedicated staff never fail to step up in times of crisis. And for that, we say thank you.  

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