Skip to main content

Sustenance for the Future

December 2, 2020

By Tim Kelly

DOC Communications

(Tim Kelly, DOC Communications)

Over 15 million meals are served annually within the Washington State Department of Corrections facilities but where are those prepared meals made?

Much of it is produced in a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) – compliant food factory at Airway Heights Corrections Center, just outside of Spokane, Wash. The food production introduces incarcerated individuals to industry standard tools and techniques that can help with future employment when they are released.

“For the average person that was in the streets and wasn’t used to working, it gives them the opportunity to learn some employable skills, plus a work ethic. It forces you to get up in the morning,” said Harry Whitman.

The 24,000 square foot food factory features raw meat processing production, as well as a full line of kettle products, such as beef stew, chili and spaghetti sauce.

They also have a bakery that includes making dough, loaf forming, bread slicing, muffin and bread packaging, as well as calzone production. Over 200,000 cases of bakery items are produced each year, all meeting whole-grain standards.

Helping people find these types of skills aligns with the Department’s mission to improve public safety by positively changing lives. It also helps support people’s success by instilling hope, embracing change, and providing opportunity, key values of the Department.

“One of the things that they’re definitely going to need is money. This gives you an opportunity to save money, learn how to manage it, and prepare for reentry,” said Whitman.