, sometimes called prison loaf
, confinement loaf
, or special management meal
, is a food served in United States prisons
who have demonstrated significant behavioral issues. It is similar to meatloaf
in texture, but has a wider variety of ingredients. Prisoners may be served nutraloaf if they have assaulted prison guards
or fellow prisoners with sharpened utensils
. Prison loaf is usually exceedingly bland in taste, perhaps even unpleasant, but prison wardens
argue that nutraloaf provides enough nutrition to keep prisoners healthy without requiring utensils to be issued.
There are many different recipes which include a range of food, from vegetables, fruit, meat, and bread or other grains. Some versions may be vegetarian
or completely vegan
. The ingredients are blended and baked into a solid loaf
form. In some institutions it has no fixed recipe but is simply the regular prison meal (including drink) blended together. In one common version, it is made from a mixture of wheat bread, non-dairy cheese, various vegetables, and mixed with vegetable oil, tomato paste, powdered milk and dehydrated potato flakes. Prisoners do not need utensils to eat it, and it is generally served on a piece of paper, rather than a tray.
Although prison loaf has been employed in many United States prisons, its use is somewhat controversial. The standards of the American Correctional Association
, which accredits prisons, discourage the use of food as a disciplinary measure, but adherence to the organization's food standards is voluntary. Denying inmates food as punishment has been found to be unconstitutional
by the courts, but because the loaf is generally nutritionally complete, it is sometimes justified as a "dietary adjustment" rather than a denial of proper meals.
Lawsuits have taken place in several states regarding nutraloaf, including Illinois, Maryland, Nebraska, New York, Pennsylvania, Washington, and West Virginia. In March 2008, prisoners brought their case before the Vermont Supreme Court, arguing that, since Vermont state law does not allow food to be used as punishment, nutraloaf must be removed from the menu. Vermont's version of nutraloaf has 966 calories per serving.