Policy Number:                     302.030

Title:                                      Food Service

Effective Date:                      11/19/19


PURPOSE:    To provide uniform procedures to direct essential food service operations at Minnesota correctional facilities.


APPLICABILITY:   All facilities



Alternative meal program – a substitute tray option, providing a lacto-ovo vegetarian meal that an offender can self-select at standard adult facilities to accommodate personal preference, avoidance of common food allergies, or a desire for more healthful eating. 


Lacto-ovo vegetarian meal – a non-meat alternate meal using dairy products, eggs, nuts, and legumes, including soybeans, to provide adequate protein and nutrition.


Menu group – a planning group consisting of food service supervisors and dietitians.



A.        Management

1.         An experienced full-time Minnesota state-certified food service supervisor manages food services at each facility, but exact titles may vary.


2.         The facility food service supervisors must operate facility kitchens using management practices that adhere to governmental health, safety, and labor codes; follow appropriate budget, purchasing and accounting practices; and provide nutritionally-balanced meals using standard menu plans.


3.         The food service supervisor must personally supervise state staff and ensure offenders assigned to food service receive direct oversight during daily operations.   This is done following the facility-established staffing ratio and offender assignment placement procedures. 


4.         The agency food program director ensures that a source of current operating guidelines is maintained on iShare (see the Food and Nutrition iShare page, link attached) and made available for staff reference to outline core food service procedures.  The food service supervisor maintains onsite procedures which are specific to the facility’s food service process details.


5.         Regular quarterly meetings are hosted by the central office for the food service supervisors to participate in group program discussion/decisions, guideline updates, trainings, and team interactions, along with periodic project work groups.


6.         Food service staff must keep documents on file at each site according to the retention schedule, such as worker orientation, food service meetings and trainings, and logs of temperatures, production, and sanitation tracking.


7.         The food service supervisor monitors the condition and adequacy of the physical spaces, water, appliances, and equipment needed to safely and effectively prepare and serve meals, placing work orders as needed.


8.         The agency food program director audits each site annually for adherence to food program standards, food safety processes, religious meal procedures, and routine inspections, and reviews documentation of related processes.  The agency food program director keeps the audit documents on file at the central office according to the retention schedule.


B.        Training

1.         New food service staff must attend the department pre-service academy training program and acquire a food safety certificate (manager’s level).  In addition, all food service staff must complete equipment and food service relevant training on a regular basis that counts toward the annual training required by the facility and department.  The food service supervisor must ensure this training is documented.


2.         Food service staff must train and supervise offenders assigned to the kitchen.  Food service staff provide and document comprehensive food and personal safety training for offenders assigned to the kitchen using established materials found in the Worker Training Materials folder of the Food Service Operations Guidebook located on iShare.


3.         The food service supervisor must ensure quarterly offender evaluations are conducted and maintained on work performance.


4.         A worker food safety certification program is supported by designated food service units to enhance worker competence and job opportunities in the community.


C.        Food service regulations

1.         Approved menu software is used at all sites to ensure compliance with nutritional policies.  Standard production forms are used to meet federal, state and local regulations regarding food safety.


2.         Food service staff must reference the iShare Food and Nutrition site frequently to ensure adherence to current operational guidelines, forms, and processes.


3.         Eating utensils are provided by the facility and regulated according to facility security needs.


4.         A minimum of 20 minutes for dining time is scheduled for all offenders/residents.


5.         Disciplinary measures must not involve food.


6.         There must be direct supervision by food service and/or security staff during scheduled adult offender dining.  Staff members must supervise meals at all juvenile facilities.


7.         Annual licensure for each food service operation is arranged by the facility food service supervisor directly through the applicable branch of the Department of Health.  The food services supervisor must ensure the license is posted for easy viewing within the food service area.


8.         At the Red Wing facility, kitchens are located in each living unit.  Food preparation occurs both in the main kitchen and in the living unit kitchens.  Living unit designees supervise food preparation and complete weekly kitchen sanitation inspections.


D.        Health and safety

1.         Inspections

a)         Facility food operations must comply with all applicable health codes and regulations of the governing jurisdiction.  The Minnesota Department of Health or local county health department conducts an annual inspection.  Facilities must take corrective actions on any deficiencies identified, document these efforts, and send the documentation as a reply to that inspector.

b)         Food service inspections are conducted internally on a weekly, monthly, and quarterly schedule.  The food service supervisor or designee must complete the weekly inspection of all food service areas; the facility safety administrator must conduct a thorough monthly inspection of food services; and a medical staff member, a state dietitian, and the associate warden of administration (AWA)/designee function as auditors for the quarterly inspections.  The associated forms can be found under the Internal Inspections Materials library of the Food and Nutrition iShare page.  Previous areas of concern are included in the next scheduled inspection to verify they were successfully addressed.

c)         The food service supervisor is responsible for addressing the non-compliant situations noted on these reports through the creation, completion, and communication of corrective action plans.  The food services supervisor ensures these reports are kept on file at the site, according to retention schedules.

d)         Distribution of inspection materials follow this path:

(1)       The food services supervisor shares weekly inspection results internally with facility management.

(2)       Monthly, quarterly, and annual inspection results are sent to the food service supervisor, who completes forms as necessary and then provides the final version to the auditor, safety administrator, health authority, and program directors in a timely fashion.  The food services supervisor saves these distribution e-mails as evidence of communication.


            2.         Environmental Controls

a)         Food service staff must review and record all food storage area, refrigerator, freezer, and dish machine temperatures daily to ensure compliance with Minnesota food code parameters.

b)         Food service staff must record and maintain appropriate temperatures for all potentially hazardous foods in service and during the critical control points of preparation (thawing, cooking, cooling, holding, and reheating).

c)         Food service staff must ensure proper dilution and use of chemicals in the kitchen and dining areas, with regular testing results recorded.


3.         The facility warden/designee may allow foods from offender/resident-grown gardens to be used for menus if the produce is fresh and inspected by food service personnel prior to use.  Food services staff quantify the types and amounts on the Garden Harvest tracking form found in the Food Service Operations Guidebook located on iShare.


4.         Food expiration

a)         Food services staff ensure that date marking is used for all refrigerated food to indicate the use-by date, if required by the Minnesota food code.


b)         Foods sent out from the kitchen to offender cells and left over from offender meal trays, meal bags, and snack bags must be discarded after 24-hours by unit officers in order to avoid consumption of unsafe foods.


5.         Restriction of ill food workers

The food service operation must have a program in place to regularly monitor the workforce for contagious symptoms per the current Minnesota Department of Health guidance.  When the need to restrict an ill worker/staff person is identified, the food services supervisor/designee can reference established procedures from the Food Program Standards folder of the Food Service Organization Guidebook located on iShare.


6.         Personal hygiene

All food services handlers involved in the preparation and serving of food must be monitored by designated staff to ensure they maintain a high standard of personal hygiene.  All food handlers must comply with all regulations of the Department of Health, including such examples as: use of gloves; hair and beard restraints; clean uniforms; washing of hands upon reporting to duty, when returning after using toilet facilities, or after breaks; and after working with raw foods.


7.         Water supply

            The facility's water supply is approved by an independent, outside source to be in compliance with jurisdictional laws and regulations, whether owned by the public water department or the facility.


E.         Menu

1.         A licensed dietitian must review and approve in writing facility menus in advance of their use, either annually or when menus are formally changed, to ensure that they meet the nationally recommended allowances for basic nutrition and established menu goals.  Facility food service supervisors must evaluate meals on an ongoing basis to ensure adherence to the DOC’s standardized menus and document quarterly.  Juvenile facilities must follow the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) school nutrition guidelines.


2.         Menu planning must also take into consideration the taste preferences of the region, food texture combinations, tray presentation, and production capabilities when creating meals.  The menu group must have representation from each adult facility at least annually.  Offender/resident input and feedback is sought regularly through facility food representative meetings.


3.         Food services staff must provide adult offenders at standard facilities the option to choose a meal from either the general menu or the alternative menu at all regularly-scheduled meals, to support self-selection guidance and community-eating readiness.  Boot camp and juvenile menus are designed differently and can accommodate special dietary needs while stressing appreciation of provisions.


4.         Staff must follow the menu schedule and post menus in serving areas, living units, and work areas at least one week in advance.  Standardized recipes are required for planning and preparing meals to ensure that minimum food service standards and menu goals are met.  Food services staff make available to offenders/residents the basic nutritional analysis of the meals.


5.         Maximum meal quality and safety is achieved through service of foods as soon as possible after preparation and tray waste observance to evaluate for issues.


6.         Staff must notify offenders/residents when possible of any menu substitutions.  The replacement item offered must follow the Menu Substitutions Guide found in the Food Program Standards folder of the Food Services Operations Guidebook located on iShare.  Food services staff must document menu substitutions on the log found in the Tracking Forms folder.


7.         Three meals per day are provided for every offender/resident at regular meal times during each 24-hour period under normal circumstances, two are hot meals.  Facility administration must ensure that an interval no greater than 14 hours is scheduled between the regular weekday evening meal period and the following day's breakfast meal period, not including holidays.


8.         Holidays – preferred meals are served in recognition of state holidays as indicated on the holiday menu schedule.

a)         Facility administration at St. Cloud, Stillwater, Rush City, Moose Lake, Lino Lakes, Faribault, and Shakopee may decide to provide two meals instead of three on the days that the facility recognizes a state holiday.

(1)       The two-meal menu for each holiday must meet established nutritional goals and follows a planned template.

(2)       In order to accommodate individual facility scheduling and programming needs, the facility administration selects the actual days on which the holiday menus are served.

b)         The facilities at Willow River, Togo, Red Wing, and Oak Park Heights serve three meals per day, including holidays.


9.         Segregation

The facility administration/designee may require a meal substitution if a general population menu item cannot be served in segregation due to security concerns.  Food services staff provides a nutritionally-equivalent substitution is provided following the Segregation Meal Guideline found in the Meal and Snack Parameters folder of the Food Service Operations Guidebook located on iShare and in Procedure H, below.  Adult offenders at standard facilities are also provided with the option to select alternative meals, if applicable (See Procedure E.3, above).


10.       The food service plan at the Red Wing facility provides a single menu for staff and offenders/residents.


F.         Medical diets

1.         A Therapeutic Diet Resource Manual is available electronically to all sites as a reference  within the Food and Nutrition library found under the health services tab on iShare for health and food services staff.


2.         Medical, dental, or religious personnel may authorize modified diets for offenders/residents.  Menus created for these purposes by a dietitian are kept simple and use foods as close as possible to those served to the general population.


3.         Health services reviews specific offender/resident dietary needs and concerns, including food allergies.  When an offender/resident is identified as needing self-manageable diet restrictions, health services personnel must provide adequate education/direction on which foods to avoid.  Offenders/residents are responsible for controlling their own food consumption and following their special diets by choosing wisely and self-selecting between menu options.


4.         Food services staff provide offenders/residents housed in a segregation unit special diet food trays if prescribed by health services.


5.         Offenders/residents with insulin-dependent diabetes may be designated by health services to receive a daily small evening snack.  On two-meal holidays, health services staff may order a diabetic bag meal for blood sugar stability.


G.        Additional diets

Offenders/residents generally can meet most religious dietary restrictions via self-selection.  Food services operations provide the following options to further accommodate religious diet restrictions:

1.         Lacto-ovo vegetarian meals are available on a meal-by-meal basis to any offender through the alternative meal program at the standard adult facilities.


2.         Pork-free meal options are only necessary every Tuesday at the lunch meal (which is the only time pork is served in adult facilities), but are made available daily through the alternative menu line.  Processes are in place to control the once-weekly handling of pork-containing foods (see the Pork Product Procedures document in the Food Program Standards folder of the Food Service Organization Guidebook located on iShare).  The Red Wing facility does not serve pork on its menu.


3.         Food services operations make reasonable meal accommodations if authorized by the facility religious coordinator for the observation of special fasts and dietary regulations.  Religious-specific menus are planned under a consultant’s guidance and contain foods if deemed necessary for meeting the dietary laws of the corresponding faith.


4.         Annual fellowship meals

Offenders/residents may attend an annual faith group meal if they meet requirements specified in Policy 302.300, "Religious Programming."  The group’s religious or volunteer coordinator must submit an Offender Group Annual Special Meal Request form (attached) to food services to apply for this meal, at least four weeks prior to the event date and at least two months in advance of the event if non-standard fare is requested.


H.        Temporary meal service

1.         Food services staff may provide cold bag meals to offenders/residents when specifically requested by behavioral health staff while monitoring for harmful or inappropriate use of food trays or tableware (see Division Directive 301.083, "Segregation Unit Management," and Policy 500.300, “Mental Health Observation”).


2.         Interim meals may be provided to offenders/residents who are not able to attend the regular meal service or are in lock-up status, or when food operations are hindered, following internal guidelines for suitable meal contents (see the Program Standards file of the Food Services Operational Guidebook located on iShare).


3.         Food services staff may use the established emergency menu and procedures during an unforeseen facility event to support continuation of meal service.  (Refer to printed or electronic Emergency Guidance documents for Food Services.)


I.          Security

1.         Tool control

            Food services staff must follow Policy 301.040, “Tool Control.”


2.         Sensitive product control

a)         Staff must store all food products identified as sensitive control substances, including yeast and flavor extract, in a secure area.

b)         The food service supervisor must follow established controls to ensure that offenders/residents have no unauthorized access to these sensitive products.


3.         Chemical storage and handling

The food service supervisor must ensure:

a)         All chemicals used in the food service area are approved by the facility’s safety administrator and safety data sheets are available upon request to staff and offender workers;

b)         All chemicals are in properly labeled containers in a secured storage area; and

c)         Adherence to safety standards from Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Minnesota Department of Health, and DOC safety policies.


J.         Unauthorized consumption and disposal of food

1.         Except with staff approval, offenders/residents must not take food from the food service area in excess of amounts allowed, or throw out portions of food while working in the kitchen.  Unauthorized consumption, waste, or removal of food by offenders/residents or staff may be cause for disciplinary action.


2.         Workers eat meals in designated dining areas on authorized meal times and may only keep on-duty beverages if covered and accessed in non-production areas.


3.         Facility staff must purchase meals from the finance department before the food is taken from food service areas for personal consumption.  Food service staff may eat the meal in service at no charge during their assigned work time to support quality control.  Staff at the Red Wing facility who are on assigned active duty status which requires them to dine with offenders/residents as part of the therapeutic programming eat that meal at no charge.


K.        Budget

1.         The department financial services director must establish the per diem for food provisions.


2.         The operating budget is determined through the biennial budget process.


3.         Special opportunity food buys are coordinated at a group level to maximize menu variety, cost savings, and access by all sites.  This is made possible through regular food deliveries by the contracted food vendor.


4.         The food service supervisor must submit offender compensation reports for processing.


5.         Purchasing

The food service supervisor must follow DOC Policy 104.300, “Purchasing.”


6.         Staff meals

a)         Pricing is set at a rate determined by the finance department.

b)         The warden may approve complimentary meals to staff and visitors following the criteria defined in collective bargaining agreements or Policy 104.480 "Employee/Visitor Meals."

c)         The warden may order a provision of meals for staff in situations such as a disturbance or lock-up.


7.         Staff and outside guest refreshments

a)         Facility funds may be used to purchase refreshments for staff consumption only under specific circumstances (refer to DOC Policy 104.460, "Special Expenses" for additional guidance).


b)         To obtain beverages and/or snacks from food services, the requestor must complete a Refreshment Request for Special Events form (attached) and a Request for Approval to Incur Special Expenses form (attached).  Each form contains distribution and approval instructions.


8.         Offender/resident refreshments

Refreshments for offender/resident recognition events may be ordered using the Refreshment Request for Special Events form.  This request must be approved by the AWA/designee prior to the date of the event.  A copy of the approved request form must be sent to finance.


9.         Records

Food service staff must maintain:

a)         A food expenditure cost accounting, designed to determine cost of a meal per offender/resident;

b)         A daily count of meals served to offenders, residents, staff and visitors;

c)         A daily count of the number of complimentary meals;

d)         Records of all food purchases and all meals served, including supplements, for purposes of production, budget planning, accounting and waste control; and

e)         Monthly inventories.



A.        The food service supervisor maintains documentation of worker orientation/training and logs of temperatures, sanitation, production, food service inspections, and illness tracking per the retention schedule.


B.        The food program director audits each site annually for adherence to food program standards and food safety processes.  Group documents are produced for meeting notes, quarterly reports, menu planning, nutritional analysis, and food-related memos.  Records are maintained in central office per the retention schedule.


C.        Current facility food licenses and staff food safety certificates are kept within the food service area.  Completed inspection audits with corresponding corrective actions are kept in a tracking file per the retention schedule.


D.        All staff training is documented in the agency approved training system.


E.         The food service supervisor at each site retains the food budget and cost related records.


ACA STANDARDS: 2-CO-4C-01; 4-4313 through 4-4322, 4-4324 through 4-4326, 4-4328; 4-4158; 1-ABC-4C-01 through 1-ABC-4C-10, 1-ABC-4C-12 through 1-ABC-4C-14; and 4-JCF-4A-01 through 4-JCF-4A-12.


REFERENCES:        Minnesota Department of Health Food Code (Minn. Rules 4626)

Policy 104.480, "Employee/Visitor Meals"

Policy 105.150, "Right to Know Program"

Policy 105.125, "A Workplace Accident and Injury Reduction Program (AWAIR)"

Policy 104.300, "Purchasing"

Policy 301.040, "Tool Control"

Policy 500.400, "Dietitian Services"

Policy 302.300 “Religious Programming”

Policy 301.083, “Restrictive Housing Management”

Policy 500.300, “Mental Health Observation”

Policy 104.460, “Special Expenses”

Food Program Standards iShare page


REPLACES:              Policy 302.030, “Food Service,” 5/21/19.

All facility policies, memos or other communications whether verbal, written, or transmitted by electronic means regarding this topic.


ATTACHMENTS:    Referenced forms and documents are found at the Food and Nutrition iShare page

Offender Group Annual Special Meal Request form (302.030C)

Refreshment Request for Special Events form (302.030D)

Request for Approval to Incur Special Expenses form (104.460A)




Deputy Commissioner, Community Services

Deputy Commissioner, Facility Services

Assistant Commissioner, Operations Support

Assistant Commissioner, Facility Services