Prison Food Company Funds Legal Marijuana Opposition

A company that makes money selling food to prisons is helping to bankroll the effort to defeat marijuana legalization, a review of new campaign finance records shows.

Services Group of America, whose subsidiary Food Services of America prepares meals for correctional facilities, gave $80,000 late last month to a campaign committee opposing the legal cannabis measure on Arizona’s November ballot.

cannabis campaign finance filing

Also giving big to keep cannabis prohibition on the books in Arizona is the state Chamber of Commerce, which dropped $498,000 into the campaign last week.

The new donations are on top of the $500,000 that opioid maker Insys Therapeutics gave in late August to oppose legalization in Arizona. The alcohol industry is on board, too: The Arizona Wine and Spirits Wholesale Association donated $10,000 earlier this year. And SAM Action, the campaign arm of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, contributed $115,000 last week.

But the support from Services Group of America in particular raises questions about the company’s interest in maintaining prohibition. If marijuana were legalized and fewer people were arrested, charged and sentenced to prison for it, there’d likely be fewer mouths behind bars for Food Services of America to feed.

The company has been accused of preparing meals that don’t provide people in prison with sufficient nutrition.

Here’s a recreation the Marshall Project did of one of the company’s daily prison menus:

jail food

Together, the three meals amount to 1,782 calories, far fewer than the 2,400 to 2,800 calories per day the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends for moderately active adult men.

Despite that, the company seems to think very highly of itself, at least as depicted in this promotional video positioning its operations as quite wholesome.

“In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to forget the important things in life: The things that got us where we are today,” the narrator says, just before showing the company’s chairman fist-bumping a delivery driver.

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Curiously, though, the six-minute video doesn’t mention the company’s prison business, focusing instead on how it supplies meals across “the complete range of food service operations, from fine dining to delis, from schools to hospitals, from military installations to cruise ships.”

The most recent poll, released Monday, shows the Arizona marijuana legalization measure trailing among likely voters, with 43 percent in support compared to 47 percent opposed.

A separate survey last month found the initiative, Proposition 205, leading 50 percent to 40 percent.

Photo Courtesy of Allie Beckett.

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