The Escambia County Commission has decided to stay with the company that currently provides food services to the Escambia County Jail and jail annex.
During the commission’s special meeting this morning—scheduled to discuss ‘purchasing procedures’—County Attorney Alison Rogers brought the matter to the board’s attention. She said that Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan intended to end the contract with Trinity Food Service in order to meet a 90-day termination requirement as he prepares to hand off jail operations to the county by October.
Rogers noted the “short turnaround time” and the fact that the county “piggyback[s]” on the current contract for its work-release program, and suggested the county continue with the current provider.
“So that we can maintain food services and commissary services,” the attorney explained.
Escambia County officials are beginning the process of absorbing the operations of the jail. Commissioners made the decision to take on the jail in response to a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into the jail, and Interim County Administrator George Touart’s assurances that he could satisfy DOJ’s concerns for less money than Sheriff Morgan believed the job required.
The food services contract represents one of the initial transfer decisions made by the commissioners. There was a brief discussion about the possibility of shopping the job around.
“This hasn’t been competitively bid in more than a decade,” said Commissioner Steven Barry.
Commissioner Grover Robinson asked the head of the county’s Corrections Department, Gordon Pike, what he thought about the move prior to the board taking a vote on the contract.
“Gordon, my question is, do you think you can do this more cheaply and more effectively?” asked Robinson.
“No, sir,” Pike replied.
The commission voted unanimously to stay with Trinity. The company charges about $1.10 per meal it serves.