LANSING – State Representative Fred Durhal III (D-Detroit) said today that it’s good that the state is ending its prison food service contract with Aramark, but is disturbed by the clandestine manner in which the state signed with a new contractor without exploring other options, which could have included allowing state workers to again provide food services in state prisons

“Aramark never seemed to get a handle on their issues with employees and with keeping clean kitchens or sticking to approved menus, and that was unacceptable” said Durhal, a member of the House Appropriations Committee and the Appropriations Subcommittee on Corrections. “They’ve been fined and had 176 of their employees banned from working in the prisons. Now that they day has come to cut ties with Aramark, I question the wisdom of signing a new contract so quickly with a new company that has not been properly vetted, and without any input from the state employees who provided this service for us previously.”

State officials announced the cancellation after discussions with Aramark when the company requested changes to the original $145 million contract. Since it took over prison food services almost two years ago there have been numerous problems with Aramark employees becoming overly familiar with prisoners, and kitchen problems ranging from maggots in food and food-prep areas, to food shortages and unapproved food substitutions.

Earlier this year, Durhal requested that State Auditor General Doug Ringler audit the state’s contract with Aramark. Recently, and before the contract was cancelled, the auditor general announced that he would do a preliminary survey of the state’s prisoner food services. A preliminary survey is information gathering and from that the auditor general will decide whether or not to do a full-scale audit.

“It would be good to know how Aramark spent taxpayer dollars so that we have some kind of benchmark by which to judge this contract with Trinity, who will be paid $158 million while Aramark’s contract was for $145 million,” said Durhal. “Taxpayers want their hard-earned money used wisely, and I’m not convinced that spending more money on a contract with another private company is a better deal than using our state workers who know the prison system and operated with transparency and accountability.”