HUNTSVILLE (WATE) - The Scott County Sheriff's Office is cutting back part of its budget and improving the lives of people in jail.
For the first time in a decade, inmates are getting home-cooked meals and the sheriff's office is getting something in return.
When the new Scott County Justice Center was built in 2008, a kitchen was installed, but in all that time, it was never used. That changed last Saturday morning.
"It's been approximately 10 years since we've had a kitchen cooking, you know, people in the kitchen actually cooking," said Lt. Mike Wilson of the Scott County Sheriff's Office.
Valley Foods is now responsible for inmate meals, and at a price of $1.38, they're reducing the cost of feeding about 160 people by more than half.
"Some of our TV dinners, not very big dinners at all, some of them were over $3.00 a piece. We probably went through and average of 150 a morning, 150 in the afternoon," Lt. Wilson added.
This year alone, serving hot meals will save the Scott County Sheriff's Department $60,000. In a full year, it will save the department $100,000.
But saving hundreds of thousands of dollars isn't the only benefit. The new industrial kitchen hood was installed by Valley Foods and the price of it incorporated into the cost per meal.
"At the end of five years, if we don't want to renew the contract, we don't have to, and all the equipment belongs to the county," Lt. Wilson explained.
According to the people who delivered the first fresh breakfast to inmates in a decade, grits and eggs cooked fresh were a hit.
"It is absolutely wonderful to see the looks on people's face here, because they are extremely happy with our service, and just seeing a hot meal being cooked instead of a TV dinner is just 100% improvement. They're happy," said Valley Foods District Manager Karen Williams.
The new service also reduces waste, with food being ordered locally and cooked at the Justice Center.
Lt. Wilson also tells us that they had to order thousands of TV dinners at once, and that sometimes several hundred would have gone bad by the time they got them.