Many US Prisons Are Still Giving Inmates ‘The Loaf’ as Punishment

nutraloaf-prison-food

The Loaf, also known also as “nutraloaf,” is fed as a punishment to inmates who get violent or have misbehaved. Unsurprisingly, civil-rights activists are urging prisons to stop serving it.

Even though “the loaf” must meet nutritional guidelines, prisons can come up with their own versions, grinding leftovers, vegetables, beans, and starches into a dense mass that (for reasons we might never understand) is served in a paper sack without seasoning.

While law enforcement says the loaf isn’t too bad, prisoners are often forced to eat it at every meal for days or even weeks after misbehaving. Once is bad enough for something that Aaron Fraser describes as a “bunch of guck, like whatever they have available.” Fraser, who spoke with NPR and was fed the loaf while serving time from 2004 to 2007, dreaded the cardboard-like meal. “I would have to be on the point of dizziness when I know I have no choice [to eat it].”

Turns out its not only the loaf that’s the punishment, but the monotony of eating it every day. Like Fraser, some inmates refuse to eat at all rather than eat the loaf. Which brings us back to human rights activists, who say the loaf’s nearly inedible state is unethical.

H/T NPR + Picthx Business Insider



Nora Landis-Shack was born to be a foodie. With a classically trained French chef for a father, she’s been exploring new tastes since she was big enough to help chop vegetables for dinner. Pig’s feet, frog’s legs, and tripe are delicious child’s play. Which isn’t to say she doesn’t love a great steak. Because she does. With frites, please.



In this article:
  • Linda Lovelush

    Yeah, well, you break the law, you lose your rights to luxuries, buddy. What’s “unethical” is the crime you committed, most likely against humanity, to land yourself in prison in the first place. And you want rights? What about the rights of the person/persons you committed your crime against?

    There are people on the street starving to death. Man up and deal with it.

    • Anonymous

      Your definition of luxury is pretty fucked up.

      Also, the fact that you’re living out your hatred vicariously through the victims of these criminals is pretty fucked up too.

      • Linda Lovelush

        I’m not living through victims of crime. I’m just saying that if you go out there and cause harm to another human being (I’m thinking mostly murderers, child molesters, etc) then why should you be treated like a human being if you didn’t act like one by taking the life of another?

        • Joe Blow

          Yeah!

          It’s not as if anyone’s ever been rongly convicted.

          Anyone in jail deserves to be there.

          Right?

          • Linda Lovelush

            I didn’t say that, now did I? Stop taking my words, and my intentions, out of context.

          • Joe Blow

            And they deserve it.

            Law abiding folks like you and me aint gotta worry.

            Right!

          • Linda Lovelush

            Why do you have sympathy for these people? Are you another one of those bleeding heart liberals? You sound like it. And as soon as the one you feel sorry for (for having to eat such HORRIBLE atrocities) is let go, that will be the one to hunt down you and your family and do something unspeakable. Is that what you want? I doubt it.

            Like NCAlpha said above, it’s only given to them when they are being punished. So maybe they should act like humans instead of primates and NOT do things to warrant this kind of punishment, hmmmmmmmmm?

          • Anonymous

            I agree with Lovelush. Their “punishment” consists of having to eat something that is nutritious but very bland tasting. Cry me a bayou. Most of these prisoners had, until conviction, been accustomed to being spoiled rotten with food stamps forcing the taxpayers to buy them fast food / carryout, frozen pizzas, and cheeseburgers every day… now they’re bummed because their free meal in prison isn’t as delicious as the free meals on the outside? I’m so sick of these “victims” of inadequate handouts.

          • Linda Lovelush

            Exactly. “Cry me a river” is what I was thinking as well. The prisoners are suddenly the victims, huh? Okay, whatever floats your boat, to those like Joe Blow, who believe BUT THE PRISONERS HAVE RIGHTS, TOO!

            Yeah, maybe they do. But they shouldn’t. Perhaps Joe Blow is a prisoner himself, using the luxury of the internet to communicate online with the outside world. Joe Blow challenges me by saying “It’s not as if you or me will ever end up in jail.” Well maybe you’re already IN jail, Joe. And if not, perhaps you wish you were, as you sound like you’d fit right in, hugging and rubbing the heads of all the inmates, telling them that life is good and they’ll be okay someday if they’re ever released and that you’ll fight for their rights to eat decent food. And I *CAN* guarantee you, Joe, that I will never end up in prison. Why? Because I’m a law-abiding citizen who has compassion for my fellow man; compassion for those who respect life and respect the lives of others – unlike your precious prisoners who are forced to suffer through eating tasteless crap.

            Oh, but it doesn’t matter how much they made their *victims* suffer. They still deserve to be treated like human beings, even though they’re not. And that is what’s wrong with today’s society – the victims of this filth are the ones who continue to pay.

          • Anonymous

            Wow.
            Stereotype much?

          • Anonymous

            Well…. yeah.

          • Anonymous

            Its a rare occurrence so yes 99.999% DO deserve to be there unless it were up to me in which case 75% wouldnt be there theyd be in the ground where they belong!

          • Anonymous

            Really?
            And just how did come to those figures?

    • Anonymous

      You nailed it Linda!

      • Linda Lovelush

        Thank you :)

    • Anonymous

      Even convicted criminals have certain rights. Look it up, it’s true.
      And your assertion that “most crimes are crimes against humanity” is ridiculous beyond my ability to articulate.
      Do you always speak before you think?

    • Markus

      So you got no rights anymore? Your hypocritical criminal…
      Have you never broken a law?
      http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052748704471504574438900830760842

      • Linda Lovelush

        Have I ever broken the law? Not significantly enough to get my ass thrown in jail, no. Does that satisfy your question? If I would do something to get myself thrown into jail, then all bets are off. I’d deserve whatever I would get.

        • Markus

          If the cops hade seen you you would…
          We all have.. Its so many laws.
          It is so many dumb laws you can get in jail for in every contry. A copel of dumb ones that might land you in prison in Alebama is:
          It is considered an offense to open an umbrella on a street, for fear of spooking horses.

          Dominoes may not be played on Sunday.

          Putting salt on a railroad track may be punishable by death.

          Men who deflower virgins, regardless of age or marital status, may face up to five years in jail.

          But of corse those assholes that deflovers Virgins got no rights!!!

          • Linda Lovelush

            No argument about stupid laws.

          • Markus

            but you think all those criminals deserve as hard punishment as possible?
            I am for rehabilitation of criminals because that changes things. Punishment never have worked or will work. And most of the people in jail don’t deserve to be treated bad, Half of the people in jail is there for drugs. and should should be considers a health issue like alcohol and not a criminal isue. portugal that decriminalices and starting treating drug adicts insted og punishing now cut the “junkie” population in half in 11 years.
            Norway were i am from got a prison that work.
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bast%C3%B8y_Prison

            I feal for you and your 2 frends but most people in jail would not do that and dont deserve to be putt under category as vilent offenders.

          • Linda Lovelush

            Okay, here’s the thing, the bottom line – several people in this discussion thread are throwing the word “punishment” around and the main thing we’re talking about here is being fed tasteless crap. I don’t see how that’s even an issue. So they’re fed tasteless crap once in a while, big deal. It’s not going to kill them. And they’re only served the stuff if they do something they’re not supposed to. Children too are punished when they do something they’re not supposed to. If Johnny gets an F in Science, guess what? No xbox until he brings his grade back up.

            Oh the horror.

          • Markus

            But its not once in a vile its for extensive periods of time.

  • Nicholas Cullen

    “Most crimes are crimes against humanity,”

    Crimes against humanity, as defined by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Explanatory Memorandum, “are particularly odious offenses in that they constitute a serious attack on human dignity or grave humiliation or a degradation of human beings.

    I believe forcing humans to eat the functional of slop would probably qualify.

    Man up and be treated like an animal.

    Another fact. About 10,000 innocent people are convicted each year of serious crimes which primarily is due to mus-identification by witnesses.

    Man up and accept your unjust imprisonment along with your animal status.

    Yet further information. As of 2008, 90.7% of federal prisoners, or 165,457 individuals, were incarcerated for non-violent offenses. Certainly not defined as crimes against humanity.

    Back to the definition of a crime against humanity – I think the current prison system of the United States fits that bill.

    In closing, please think before you speak. You sound ignorant. Have some respect for your fellow humans.

    • Linda Lovelush

      I’ve lost my faith in humanity, sorry about that.

      And I have respect for those who have respect for life and the lives of others.

      • Guest

        Yeah right you lie

        • Linda Lovelush

          I wish I *were* lying. My friend Joanne was raped and murdered and left to die in the woods. She disappeared on May 22nd (on her birthday) and was found exactly 2 months later, July 22nd, by a squirrel hunter, partially decomposed and nude from the waist down. Her skull had been crushed.

          My friend Melissa ran off with her druggy boyfriend to Florida. He killed her, cut her up, placed her body parts in 5 separate bags and threw them into Pensacola Bay.

          These are things I have lived with most of my life. You still want to tell me I’m lying? Why in *the* hell would anyone lie about something as horrific as this? It’s been hard as hell dealing with it.

  • Anonymous

    When a inmate throws excrement or seman on a guard they get to enjoy this tasty treet. A inmate usually has to get a medical okay in certain states and the recipe is set by a nutritionist. Usually it is made of vegetables and mashed potatoes. It is mashed and baked into a loaf. It has zero leavening or spices.

  • Johnny Marlin

    Hey, if you think the “Loaf” is inhuman, give the inmate the “Loaf’s” raw ingredients and let them make of it what they want!. Raw potatoes, raw chicken, raw beef, raw vegetables, ETC.

    let’s see if they find that more palatable??

    I say as long as it contains 1200+ calories and is nutritionally balanced per the FDA, eat it or don’t eat it, this AIN”T Burger King nor the Holiday Inn!

    • Linda Lovelush

      Amen.

  • Grant Wood

    I don’t understand why we keep protecting those that have done wrong in this country. In this case…they are even worse….they are in prison and continue to do wrong…in PRISON. This doesn’t seem like a harsh enough punishment. Can we get some durian and just keep it out of reach? So the stench gets worse? That would be more fitting.

    • Luca Shoal

      Because they’re still human beings, yknow?

      • Linda Lovelush

        They are?

        • Luca Shoal

          Well they’re certainly not aardvarks, are they? I don’t really think it’s possible to debate they’re still homo sapiens. You could argue that prisoners, violent or not, lack *humanity* if you so chose, and that’s your prerogative. But they’re still human beings, that…yknow, can’t really be debated.

          • Linda Lovelush

            You know what? You’re absolutely correct. Unfortunately they *are* acting like humans. It’s the nature of the human beast to destroy themselves and other people. So you’re right. They’re human, alright. Because that’s what humans do.

            PS – kudos to you for being one of the VERY few people on the internet today that knows how to spell ‘prerogative’ correctly. I’m impressed :)

          • Luca Shoal

            I can thank spellcheck for that.

            And then I’m glad we can agree on that point. We can at least do them the service of treating them with some modicum of dignity. Going by Nick Cullen’s older comment from a few days ago… most inmates aren’t violent, innocent inmates, etc.

            With that said, would you consider this Nutraloaf cruel and unusual punishment, as proscribed by the 8th Amendment? Seeing as Foodbeast is, obviously, food focused, http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/September-2010/Dining-Critic-Tries-Nutraloaf-the-Prison-Food-for-Misbehaving-Inmates/ have a dining critic’s take on it. I get that inmates are there to serve for their crime, I’m not denying that. But that doesn’t mean they should suffer unduly, beyond, yknow, being in prison. You’re welcome to disagree, but I’d say said loaf fits the bill of unusual punishment.

          • Linda Lovelush

            Well, like others have said, the only time they get this wonderful yummy loaf is when they act up and do things against the rules of the prison. It’s not like every inmate is fed the stuff 24/7/365. It’s only used as a punishment. So no, I don’t see what the big deal is. If I did something wrong in prison, I’d much rather eat a plate of tasteless crap than be tossed into solitary for 7 days.

            Wouldn’t you?

            And you burst my bubble by saying you had to use spellcheck. Damn.

            LOL

          • Luca Shoal

            But do we know that for a fact? Do we know for certain these inmates aren’t being fed it for days, weeks, more? Prisons are rife with abuse of inmates, and it’s sadly looked over because “well maybe they shouldn’t be criminals, they deserve it!” While completely glossing over potential human rights violations.

            Plus, the loaf seems to sadly becoming more and more commonplace, less ‘unusual’ to steal from Ruby’s article. It may not be cruel to serve it for a day, maybe two. But longer? We just don’t know if that’s happening, and I’m inclined to believe it is.

          • Linda Lovelush

            Well, it’s better than letting them starve to death, don’t you think?

            Speaking of prisons and inmates and all that, a Lucasville Prison inmate is scheduled to die today by the new never-before-tried drug that’s being used for his execution. He’s concerned he may suffer. Well how poetic. How about the young woman you kidnapped, raped and then stabbed to death? A woman that was pregnant as well. What about her? You don’t think *she* suffered?

            Cry me a river.

            http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/01/16/3874065/ohio-killer-close-to-execution.html

          • Luca Shoal

            We were doing so well til you had to throw in that “cry me a river” bit, I’m disappointed. And with a red herring story at that. A red herring, appeal to emotion. I can see where this debate, or lack thereof, is going. So I’ll just stop here. I’m sorry to hear about what happened in your friends. I should hope I’d never have to have such a horrible thing happen to me.

          • Linda Lovelush

            Please don’t tell me you feel sympathy for that monster. I heard just a while ago that he apparently ‘suffered’, the entire execution taking 15 minutes to complete and he appeared to be struggling. How tragic. I’m sure the woman he raped struggled too. And between the rape and the stabbing, she no doubt endured suffering way longer than 15 minutes. Plus she was pregnant. He took two lives, not just one.

            As he lay dying, I hope he thought about what put him in that position in the first place. However, he was supposedly unconscious and wasn’t aware of what was actually going on. Although I hope he was. If he suffered, justice was served. Although the perfect justice for him would have included being gang-raped by a bunch of burly dudes named Bubba and then stabbed and left to bleed out.

            Maybe I’m a horrible and cruel human being for saying that. But I don’t think so. I have compassion for those I love, I have compassion for animals (all of my animals have been rescues that were abused by sick human beings) I give to homeless shelters, I give to Saint Jude because it breaks my heart to see any child suffering from cancer, I’ve worked in nursing homes and enjoyed helping the elderly, and I love my son. I’d die for him and I’d kill to protect him. So I don’t think I’m a horrible person. I just don’t like horrible people.

          • Luca Shoal

            And I’ll just repeat that you’re veering well away from the topic of the article. I’m not going to argue about empathy. Nor am I going to argue about the personhood of a fetus, that’s well beyond the scope of Foodbeast and you know it. You’re still appealing to emotion here.

            I also find that “prison rape” “joke” *EXTREMELY* offensive. You should know rape isn’t a joking matter. Thanks for continuing the stigmatization of homosexuality in the world, as well as normalizing rape. I really shouldn’t be surprised though.

          • Linda Lovelush

            Who was joking?

          • Luca Shoal

            That’s absolutely appalling and deplorable.

          • Linda Lovelush

            Possibly. But on my local talk radio station, that’s the topic of the night and 8 out of 10 callers (sans the few bleeding hearts) share the exact same opinion as I do, including the talk show host.

            Good riddance to bad rubbish.

          • Luca Shoal

            Enjoy your echo chamber.

          • Linda Lovelush

            I shall. And thank you for the conversation. At least you’re not one of those typical childish internet trolls that resorts to insults and name-calling. You were mature and honest and I respect your opinion. However, I still stand by my own.

          • Luca Shoal

            That you can, yes. I can’t say I respect your opinion, but you’re welcome to believe what you wish and feel as you choose.

          • Linda Lovelush

            And you as well. I’m sorry I can’t feel the same kind of compassion as you do, but it’s just not there. It’s not in my heart. Maybe my heart is cold. In fact I know it is, it’s grown much colder over the years, I even stopped believing in God. I don’t know where or how I lost that faith and compassion, but I’ve just never been able to get it back. I used to be completely against the death penalty. I was of the opinion that it made no sense to kill people to prove to people who kill people that killing people is wrong. That made no sense to me.

            But, again, I digress.

            Thank whatever higher powers exist that my current family, animals included, are dearly loved by me. At least that isn’t gone yet. And I hope it never is.

          • Luca Shoal

            Thank you for your honesty. It makes me feel better at least.

          • Linda Lovelush

            Well… I know I’m not the most ‘optimal’ person to talk to about this sort of thing, but again I appreciate the mature conversation. I know I can be condescending and sometimes downright rude, but it’s nothing personal, I can assure you.

          • Luca Shoal

            No worries.

  • Anonymous

    They ought to consider themselves lucky as if it were up to me theyd only be getting bread and water PERIOD!

    • Johnny Marlin

      Bread…………….No way……….next they will want butter and jam!

      I say feed them Chinese made Dog food!

    • Markus
      • Anonymous

        Are you TRYING to be sarcastic? Yes there are WAY to many laws & YES the government wants to be able to snatch you up anytime they feel like it but that doesnt mean we ignore real criminals who deserve to be punished.

        • Markus

          So that is why you think we should putt all the 90% of non vilent ofenders on water and bread? bacause you want to punish a copel of vilent ones?
          You are a criminal !!! So you deserve it to…

          • Anonymous

            Boo hoo, yeah Im a criminal, whatever – whats the difference violent/non-violent? a criminal is a criminal & should be treated as such!

          • Markus

            So by you own standards you should be treated as shit….

          • Anonymous

            By the way apparently Markus has socialist tendencies as seen by his other comments so consider the source!

          • Markus

            i am an humanist….

          • Luca Shoal

            How is “socialist” supposed to be an insult? I’m curious. What exactly is wrong with being in favor of social policies that benefit society? Like, I dno, a federal program that subsidizes providers who supply telephone service to low-income consumers. It’s hard to get a job if the prospective employer can’t call you back, yknow?

  • Jason

    I work at a county jail and our version of the loaf is only given to inmates that are violent toward staff and no other options are left for giving a hard plastic tray and utensils (I.e possible weapons) to them. Once they decide to change their behavior, then they can get back on real meals. Usually they decide to follow our rules. It is not for punishment. It is purely for safety.

  • Kasatka Tilikum

    It’s edible, meets certain nutritional guidelines, and has been deemed “not that bad”. If there’s a problem with eating it, then the prisoners need to control themselves and be good. You get it if you become violent. Besides, prisoners are in jail not to simply live life with “free” food and shelter, but rather to be punished for a crime they committed. I am all for this icky meal, since it isn’t being forced on everyone and can be avoided. It’s the idiots who get to eat it because they have no control.

    • Markus
    • Luca Shoal

      “not that bad” by whom? http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/September-2010/Dining-Critic-Tries-Nutraloaf-the-Prison-Food-for-Misbehaving-Inmates/ this critic tried it, and disagrees with this alleged person(s) you speak of.

      • Kasatka Tilikum

        To quote the article I commented on in the first place, “Law enforcement says the loaf isn’t too bad”.
        Besides, it isn’t SUPPOSED to taste good. The stuff in it doesn’t sound bad, it’s just a loaf of a bunch of stuff without any seasoning. And like I said, it may be a “cruel meal”, but the people eating it EARNED that. It’s not like this is being served at soup kitchens/homeless shelters. It’s being given to prisoners. People who not only broke the law, but specifically became violent and needed a different type of meal that wouldn’t require utensils. They aren’t there to be eating fancy meals, and sandwiches would be too tolerable to be considered a punishment. The goal is NOT to make people WANT to be in prison.

        • Luca Shoal

          …ok? You’re putting words into my mouth?

  • The Captain

    Food for thought (pun intended): instead of serving regular food and saving nutraloaf as punishment, make nutraloaf the standard meal then let prisoners earn better food through good behavior. Positive reinforcement and all that.

  • pigeonkill

    i suppose it depends on what you want prison/jail to accomplish. i am pretty sure the recidivism rates show that the current techniques are working very well. i think it would help a great deal to, at least, try to change some of the persons fundamental ideas. I’m not so sure that stepping into the grey area of torture further is going to help.

    you speak of the homeless that have no food. what about the homeless that purposely try to get arrested because they have no food.

    at some point there should be a better discussion about how to break the cycle.

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