Statement on Coyote Ridge Hunger Strike

By | February 5, 2019

Prison Voice Washington is keeping in touch with families of those incarcerated at Coyote Ridge Corrections Center as prisoners there continue a hunger strike in protest of the Correctional Industries factory food system. Concerns about the food appear to be consistent with complaints at several other prisons in Washington State: nutritional quality of the food fails to comply with the standards of the DOH Healthy Nutrition Guidelines, as required by Executive Order 13-06, and the cold “breakfast boats” (bagged breakfasts) are heavy in refined carbohydrates and deficient in fresh fruit and protein. The primary sources of protein in these breakfast boats are small powdered milk packets and packets of hydrogenated-oil packed peanut butter. The Washington Department of Corrections and its revenue branch, Correctional Industries, have received ongoing pressure from many stakeholder groups and public officials since the Prison Voice Washington report on the DOC-CI food model came out in 2016. In response, DOC and CI have promised to reinstate more nutritious hot breakfasts served in dining halls at all prisons in the state over the next couple of years, phasing out the nutritionally deficient bagged breakfasts served cold in prison cells. This process has already begun at Washington State Penitentiary in response to an April 2018 hunger strike at that facility. Monroe Correctional Complex is slated to be the next facility to have hot breakfasts reinstated, though we have yet to see what negotiations might occur between DOC and those incarcerated at Coyote Ridge who are tired of waiting for healthy food in sufficient quantities, as mandated by Executive Order 13-06. 

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About Loretta Rafay

Loretta received her MS in Environmental & Forest Sciences at the University of Washington (UW), with a research focus on the biochemistry and chemical ecology of grassland plants. She also holds a BA from UW in Asian Languages & Literature, with expertise in both Mandarin and Classical Chinese. She is the secretary of the Washington Department of Corrections Statewide Family Council and a volunteer policy researcher for Prison Voice Washington.

One thought on “Statement on Coyote Ridge Hunger Strike

  1. Amy Love

    Amazing that the hunger strike caused this positive change system wide. The boats are extremely unhealthy and I am excited to see others interested in changing the inmates’ nutrition.

    From what I have calculated, the inmates’ diet is approximately 70% carbohydrate.  This has, without a doubt,  contributed to obesity, diabetes, and the chronic illnesses that accompany these diagnoses – hypertension, stroke, heart disease, amputations and kidney disease. There is also significant evidence that diet is related to mental illness as well, a common concern in the prison population.  I believe there is a potential to save millions of dollars on health care expenses, in insulin and medications alone, if we were able to change their diet.

    There is now evidence based health care management to reverse Type II Diabetes and chronic illness, not only in the prison system but in the mainstream population as well.  I would love to be a part of this solution and welcome conversation.

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