Tennessee Inmate Reports Substandard Food-Service Practices

HAIR AND OTHER FOREIGN OBJECTS FOUND ON FOOD TRAYS

by Sharon Rondeau

(Nov. 18, 2017) — On Friday, The Post & Email received a letter dated November 10, 2017 from Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) inmate Grenda Ray Harmer, #88710, who detailed deficiencies he has noted about the quality and safety of the food at the Morgan County Correctional Complex (MCCX), where he has resided since early June.

Harmer, who has been in protective custody since late July, had previously reported receiving smaller portions than inmates in the general population and has now documented hair and food from previous meals on his food trays as well as another unknown substance.

On page 1 of his two-page letter, Harmer stated that he sent “hair samples” found on his trays between early October and early November to Warden Shawn Phillips as proof of his complaints.

Prior to his contacting Phillips, Harmer had written to Associate Warden Ken Hutchinson about a lack of coffee available in his unit.  Hutchinson told Harmer to “check w/ Food Service,” after which Harmer penned a letter to Food Service employee Larenda McCormick.

McCormick responded to both of Harmer’s two memos, written approximately one month apart, by stating that the absence of coffee had been rectified and to advise her if it should recur.

On page 2 of his letter to The Post & Email, Harmer said that employees of Aramark, the food-service company contracted to feed the inmates, do not “escort the food” to the unit as expected.

In the “Administrative Notice” enclosed with his letter, Harmer told Phillips he was providing “legal notice of your subordinates [sic] unlawful acts,” quoting TDOC Administrative Policies and Procedures and citing what he alleged were inadequate-sized food portions, food served at substandard temperatures, and violations of required health and safety precautions normally adhered to by food-service workers in a wide variety of settings.

He also reported that on September 24 and 30, inmates in his unit received two meals rather than the customary three.

On page 2, Harmer indicated that he wrote about his observations to Rep. John Ray Clemmons, who was a guest on the “Nooganomics” radio show with David Tulis on November 10 to discuss conditions in Tennessee’s prisons.

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