Emails: Aramark employee served cake eaten by rodents to mid-Michigan inmates

Mar 17, 2015 at 5:31 am
click to enlarge Emails: Aramark employee served cake eaten by rodents to mid-Michigan inmates
In one Michigan prison last year, rodents were apparently first in line for dessert. 

Last July, an employee for Michigan's food service contractor in state prisons ordered a kitchen worker to serve cake that was nibbled and pawed by rodents to inmates at the St. Louis Correctional Facility near Mt. Pleasant, according to emails obtained by the liberal group Progress Michigan under the Freedom of Information Act.

The emails were made public by the group on Tuesday. 

The contractor, Aramark, has a three-year, $145 million agreement to run kitchen operations in Michigan prisons. Since assuming responsibility, it has cooked up a seemingly unremitting stream of blunders.

In the emails, Jeffrey Larson, warden of the Central Michigan Correctional Facility, assesses the rodent situation with a handful of colleagues.

"[A] kitchen worker reported to custody staff that he was ordered to serve cake that had evidence of rodents eaten from it," Larson wrote in one email, dated July 20. "The Aramark employee allegedly ordered him to cut the sides of the cake off and serve it to the population. I'm heading into work now to assess the mood of the population and address any sanitation concerns." 

Sara Wurfel, spokeswoman for Republican Gov. Rick Snyder deferred comment Monday night to Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) spokesman Chris Gautz, who confirmed the incident.

Gautz told MT the employee was escorted out of the facility within 45 minutes of it being disclosed to MDOC officials. The worker was placed on a corrections department "stop order," which banned them from prison property. Michael Flesch, the vice president of operation services for Aramark, told MDOC officials the employee would be terminated, emails show.

"It is definitely not acceptable behavior and wouldn't be anything we would ever condone," Gautz says, adding an exterminator was immediately sent in following the report and the facility's kitchen was scrubbed clean.

Gautz says employees did not observe any rodents eating cake.

Aramark has been a source of contention for governor Snyder, who hired former prison chief Ed Buss last year to oversee the contract. Over the past year, allegations tied to Aramark include a murder-for-hire plot, drugs being smuggled indoors by employees, and maggots being served on a chow line.

Buss resigned just over five months into his job. MDOC has yet to find a replacement.