Aramark, Michigan prisons mutually cut food contract

(WLNS) – It’s official the state has cut ties with food services company Aramark.

Aramark has been contracted to serve food at Michigan State Prisons for the last two-and-a-half years, but during that time there have been many documented and reported issues.

That included finding maggots in food, employees having intimate relations with inmates and even drug smuggling.

But it wasn’t those incidents that caused the two to cut the $145 million contract short.

The two sides have been talking since spring about possibly ending their contract, but nothing was made official until Friday.

Aramark released a statement Monday saying.

“We take full responsibility for all aspects of our performance while operating in a highly charged political environment that included repeated false claims. Ultimately, we were unable to resolve a number of shared issues.”

The Michigan Department of Corrections says they saw this coming and had already been talking with another food services company that was able to step in quickly this weekend, but the reason they made the cut had nothing to do with maggots and other issues.

After months of making headlines state officials say it wasn’t the maggots or the criminal activity of Aramark in prisons that led them to cut ties with the food service. In fact they say Aramark approached them with contract concerns.

“Some of those things involved the overall billing method, involved some meal changes they were interested in and so those discussions took place,” said Chris Gautz, MDOC.

On Friday the two decided to part ways.

The MDOC was quick to fill their shoes to make sure Michigan’s prisoners stay fed, hiring Trinity Food Services Group for a three year contract, a finalist in 2013 for the initial bid against Aramark.

“We knew, based on their original bid that they knew what they were doing they had the supply chain and the infrastructure and the employees.”

Department of Corrections spokesperson Chris Gautz says unlike Aramark, Trinity exclusively works in prisons and has a clean track record in 44 other states.

But you won’t see many changes inside of the state prison kitchens. The meals have to be the same and up to their nutrition standards and caloric standards. Some Aramark employees will just be changing their t-shirts and working for Trinity.

“There’s a whole host of kitchen workers from Aramark who have not had any problems and so the idea is that those individuals would continue be employed only through trinity right now.”

Aramark has also agreed to help the state transition to Trinity from July 22 to September 9.

A big concern from the state was the dollar signs with Aramark the state saved $12 million in the first fiscal year.

The state says they expect to save $11.5 million with Trinity Food Services.

The three-year contract with Trinity won’t be official until it’s approved Tuesday and in the meantime Aramark will help out with the transition through September.

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