Trinity Services Group

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PCI, 1114 Brandt Drive, Tallahassee FL 32308

Florida Department of Corrections, Tallahassee, Florida
February 9, 2009 St Petersburg Times
Three times a day, the inmates at Madison Correctional Institution discover what a budget deficit tastes like. The scene in the prison chow hall in this quaint North Florida town is repeated across the state as it returns to in-house food service and struggles to cut costs. While the inmate population is growing, the Legislature is cutting spending in the nation's third-largest state prison system. Florida is now coping with the effects of a failed and expensive food-privatization venture of former Gov. Jeb Bush. In 2001, Florida turned over most prison food operations to Aramark Corp., even after Ohio had scrapped a similar experiment with bad results. After seven years marked by numerous irregularities, fines for sloppy service and a state report that flagged the vendor's "windfall" profits, Aramark pulled out of Florida prisons last month. The firm said it could no longer make money due to skyrocketing prices of bread, milk and other staples amid pressure from the state to cut costs. A second, smaller company also left: Trinity Services Group of Oldsmar had served meals at North Florida prisons, including Madison. Now that the vendors are gone, the privatization experiment is officially dead and the state must run an in-house meals program on less money amid the worst budget crisis in decades. In fiscal 2007-08, Florida paid two private vendors a total of $85 million. The current year's food budget is $76 million. Aramark's per-diem rate, or cost per day to feed an inmate, was $2.69. Now it's $2.12, which will force the state to make menu changes to save money.

December 23, 2008 Gainesville Sun
Florida's inmates will soon have a new chef in the kitchen. By the second week of January, all food served in state prisons will be prepared by state employees and inmates. The Department of Corrections is taking over in the kitchen after its two contracted providers, Trinity Food Services and Aramark Correctional Services, terminated their contracts to feed inmates. Both providers have told prison officials that inflation, especially rapidly rising food costs, was a primary factor in their decisions to end their contracts. The department is taking over at a time when the inmate population is growing significantly and the Legislature is cutting expenditures. The 2008 state Legislature cut the department's 2008-2009 food appropriation by $9.25 million to $76.5 million. When the Legislature met in the spring, the inmate population was estimated at nearly 89,000, but earlier this month topped 100,000 for the first time in state history. Prison contracts show Trinity pulled out of the prisons it was serving in November and Aramark will be out of all the prisons it has been serving by Jan. 12. Since beginning to assume control of the prison kitchens, the department has contracted with U.S. Food Services to provide food.

November 13, 2008 Palm Beach Post
A seven-year privatization effort for prison food services is officially over as the state begins taking over meal preparation in some prisons today. But Florida prison officials are unable to pinpoint exactly how much serving nearly 100,000 inmates will save taxpayers, or if it will at all. "We don't have a number right now," Department of Corrections spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger said this week. Corrections officials were ordered by the legislature this year to trim more than $9.2 million from their annual $83.9 million food services budget by cutting back on calories, changing the meal plan and allowing the two vendors to reduce staff. But prison officials were reluctant to implement reductions because they feared it could lead to inmate uprisings and endanger guards. After rebidding the food services contract and issuing an invitation to bid on just food, the department settled on a $77.2 million contract with U.S. Food Services to supply the food and take over cooking the meals and cleaning up in-house. Lawmakers have been looking for places to trim the state budget all year with as much as $3 billion less in revenue than expected. They could meet as early as next month for another cost-cutting session. "The days of 'trust me' and ask the legislature to just sign off on things are over. People are going to have to justify every cent that the public provides. If it saves money, I'm all for it. But everything's going to have to be proven," said Sen. Alex Villalobos, R-Miami, who served on the Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Committee and was appointed Rules Chairman Thursday. Vendors Trinity Food Services and Aramark said they could not cut costs without changing the menu, something else prison officials were reluctant to do because studies show that meal changes create disturbances in prisons. Both Vendors Trinity Food Services and Aramark vendors gave notice this year sent letters to the department earlier this year giving officials notice that they were going to walk away from the contracts. DOC this summer reissued a bid food services and another for food products only. The cheapest bid for food services came from Philadelphia-based Aramark for $96.1 million, Plessinger said, nearly $21.5 million more than their revised budget allows. "We're looking at all of those numbers and we do believe it will come in under $96.1 million," Plessinger said of the new contract. Since signing a contract with the state seven years ago, Aramark has received mixed reviews. There have been questions about food quality, quantity and potential health violations. At times, the company has been fined by the state for failure to meet the specifications of its contract. The company now faces fines of more than $300,000 for violations. Trinity, which serves the region of the state from Madison to Flagler counties, will cease serving food today. Aramark will gradually withdraw from the rest of the state and will be out of the state's prison food business by mid-January. Taking back food operations is "quite unprecedented for a department of corrections," Aramark spokeswoman Sarah Jarvis said. Prison officials they can cut the food price by altering the menu and making other cost savings quickly, Plessinger said. The department will realize 100 percent of the savings by changing the menu to cheaper items instead of splitting that with the vendors, she said. The plan includes having inmates grow more of their own food and training them as cooks, Plessinger said, part of DOC's efforts to prepare inmates for release. "We think this is going to be a win for everybody. First and foremost for Florida taxpayers because this is the best way for us to cut our food budget. It's also a win for our inmates because it's going to expand training programs for them," Plessinger said, while maintaining prison safety.

Egeler Reception and Guidance Center
Blackman Charter Township, Michigan
May 12, 2017
Prison worker fired, accused of kitchen sex with inmate
LANSING, Mich. — A prison food worker at a Michigan prison was fired Wednesday after she and an inmate were caught having sex in the kitchen, a state Department of Corrections spokesman said Thursday.
The incident happened inside a cooler just after dinner at the Charles Egeler Reception and Guidance Center in Jackson, Mich., where new inmates are sent before they are assigned to a longer-term prison. “The allegation is that she was observed having sex with a prisoner” who worked in the kitchen, said Chris Gautz, a department spokesman. The Trinity Services Group worker was fired for “over-familiarity,” and the Michigan State Police were notified, he said. “Prisoners have no ability under the law to consent to sexual contact,” Gautz said. “The Trinity employee could face charges, but that is up to the (Michigan State Police) and local prosecutor.” Gautz said such conduct is "serious and completely unacceptable" because it "jeopardizes the safety of the prisoner, our staff and the security of the facility." He said, "The individual was immediately removed from the facility and will no longer be allowed to work at the prison." The 40-year-old inmate is serving a five- to 15-year sentence for unarmed robbery, state records show. This is the latest in a long line of incidents involving over-familiarity, smuggling and other issues since the Michigan Department of Corrections privatized its food service as a cost-cutting measure in 2013. Such instances were rare when prison kitchens were staffed with state employees, who received higher pay and benefits and prisons experienced far less turnover. In September, it was reported that a Trinity worker was fired after she and an inmate were caught kissing inside a kitchen cooler, also at Egeler. In 2014, four female prison food workers employed by Aramark Correctional Services at Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility in Ionia, Mich., were fired for having inappropriate sexual contact with male inmates inside a walk-in cooler, officials said. Aramark of Philadelphia, which replaced about 370 state kitchen workers in December 2013, ended its three-year, problem-plagued contract early and was replaced by Florida-based Trinity in 2015. Trinity signed a three-year, $158.8-million contract, but is in line for a $4-million raise, based on inflationary increases and the number of meals served, officials said in March. Since taking over the contract, Trinity has been hit with $2.1 million in fines for contract infractions such as unauthorized meal substitutions, delays in serving meals, inadequate staffing levels and sanitation issues, among other problems. As of the end of March, Trinity employees had received 132 stop orders, banning them from prison property for firing offenses such as smuggling or over-familiarity. At the same point in its contract, Aramark workers had received 177 stop orders, officials said.

Fulton County Jail, Fulton, Georgia
July 18, 2007 Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Fulton County can't seem to resolve a $4 million deal to provide food service to county jail inmates, a contract marked by allegations of corruption and employee misconduct. The board failed to end the controversy again Wednesday with a deadlocked 3-3 vote on a proposal to keep the current company, Trinity Services Group, for another year. Commissioners, who have discussed the deal at length half a dozen times in the past several months, didn't bother Wednesday. They simply took the latest vote with no discussion. The deal has gone through several attempts to bid and rebid with three main groups seeking the work all being ranked No. 1 at different times. The controversy has generated bid complaints and lawsuits from spurned bidders that continue. Evaluators recommended Trinity in the latest round of bids completed June 15 over teams from Gourmet/Aramark and Meat Masters. Meat Masters has filed suit challenging the bids and the process and seeking award of the deal. The company's lawyer, Charles Mathis, accused county staff of improperly manipulating bid results to keep Meat Masters from winning the bid. County attorney O.V. Brantley said he looked into the allegations but found no reason to call in criminal investigators. The third bidder, Gourmet-Aramark Correctional Services, also says it was cheated out of the contract. The company filed a formal bid protest with the county. The firm also alleged collusion involving the other two bidders because Meat Masters filed a bid but also was included as a subcontractor on the winning bid by Trinity.

March 22, 2007 Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Fulton County will take a step back and ask more companies to bid on a contract to feed inmates at the Fulton County Jail. Fulton's County Commission voted unanimously Wednesday for a 90-day deferral on a vote to hire a food service provider for the jail and satellite facilities. County purchasing officials are to use the delay to advertise the contract in national publications that cater to the corrections industry. Commissioners weren't pleased by a staff recommendation to hire Gourmet-ARAMARK Correctional Services, which the county fired two years ago. Some commissioners drilled into the county's purchasing guidelines because they give a big bonus to companies that have an office in Fulton County. Commissioner Robb Pitts said Gourmet-ARAMARK would have won the contract even if all three bidders had scored the same in every category but one — location. For the sole reason that it was the only company with a physical address in Fulton County, the company outscored its competition and won the staff's recommendation, Pitts said. Chairman John Eaves said he didn't understand why Gourmet-ARAMARK got the nod when its $4 million bid was the highest of the three that were submitted. It was about $1 million higher than the low bidder. Eaves made the motion to defer the vote. Felicia Strong-Whitaker, a deputy director of the county's purchasing department, said the county's purchasing guidelines state that cost makes up 25 points of the formula used to recommend a company for this type of contract. A company gets an automatic 10 points if it has an office in Fulton County, she said.

February 21, 2007 Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Amid allegations of bid rigging and corruption, Fulton County commissioners agreed Wednesday to rebid a lucrative food service contract at the county jail. County Attorney O.V. Brantley said Wednesday she's launched a probe into the allegations, but Commissioner Robb Pitts said any investigation should be turned over to state or federal agents. "Someone seems hell bent on giving the contract to this firm," Pitts said. "I'm going to find out why.... This is serious stuff...This needs to be investigated, not in house but by someone outside." The Trinity Services Group won the original contract in 2005, but it expired more than a year ago. When it was rebid in December, Trinity received the recommendation, even though it was the highest bidder of the three, according to county records. One of the firms that was rejected filed a formal protest with the county, and the other filed a letter, also with the county, claiming employees were pressured to change bid evaluations to ensure that the deal stayed with Trinity. Charles Mathis Jr. said his client, Meat Masters Inc., was the rightful winner of the contract with a bid that was $850,000 lower than Trinity's $4.1 million offer. They only failed, Mathis said in his letter, because county employees were pressured to doctor the bid evaluations. "Meat Masters should legitimately be awarded the contract," Mathis wrote. Two county employees, Sgt. Chandra Hall and former Chief Jailer Charles Felton, provided written statements to Meat Masters that they had been directed to change the contract evaluations to boost the results for Trinity. The Board of Commissioners has copies of the letters, which were also obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Both said they were threatened that if they went before commissioners with Meat Masters as the bidder they would be hammered. The other bidder, Gourmet-Aramark Correctional Services, has alleged collusion involving the other two bidders since Meat Masters was included as a subcontractor on the winning bid by Trinity. Lawyer Michael Coleman, who served as hearing officer for the complaint, issued a ruling on Feb. 16 that recommended Fulton rebid the deal. "Due to the questions raised by the county's rejection of Gourmet-ARAMARK's proposal and the collusion claims involving Trinity and Meat Masters, the appropriate remedy is to cancel the current RFP and re-issue a new RFP," Coleman found.

Michigan Department of Corrections
Jan 21, 2017
Mich. prison contractor fined $2M over service issues
Michigan has fined its new private prison food service contractor more than $2 million for unplanned meal substitutions, delays, staffing shortages and other contract violations since late 2015, the state Department of Corrections confirmed Friday. Florida-based Trinity Food Services signed a three-year, $158 million contract in July 2015 after the state terminated its initial deal with Aramark Correctional Services over problems, including maggots found in kitchen areas and worker sex acts with prisoners. The Trinity fines include roughly $900,000 for meal substitutions, meaning Trinity was not able to provide food items it promised and instead served alternatives. The company was also fined roughly $357,000 for meal service delays and around $356,000 for staffing vacancies. Trinity is contractually obligated to provide the state with 350 prison food service workers. As of Monday, it had 309 employees and 27 others who were set to begin in the near future, according to the department. Spokesman Chris Gautz said the Department of Corrections is working with the Department of Talent and Economic Development for help reaching new candidates for jobs that have proven difficult to fill. “The department and director feel staffing really is the key issue,” Gautz told The Detroit News. “If they had full staffing and had a consistent experienced staff, you would have fewer fines for staffing. But we think you’d also see far fewer fines for meal substitutions and delays.” The state has issued “stop orders” prohibiting 114 Trinity employees from working in Michigan prisons, largely due to “over-familiarity” with prisoners. That’s down from 159 stop orders against Aramark during the same period, Gautz said. A Trinity spokesperson did not immediately respond Friday to a request for comment. Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration had fined Aramark $200,000 before ending the contract about two years after the Republican-led Legislature required the state to privatize prison food service in an attempt to save money. The new deal struck with Trinity includes stricter language requiring fines for various violations. The state deducts the fines from its monthly payments to the company. Gautz said contract “accountability was always key” for Corrections Director Heidi Washington, who took over the department in May 2015. “This is us holding them accountable, as we do with all our vendors,” he said. But critics say the Trinity fines are the latest evidence that contracting out prison food service to private companies has been a bad deal for Michigan, which laid off state workers in hopes of cutting costs. “These services never should have been privatized,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of liberal advocacy group Progress Michigan, who also pointed to problems that surfaced last year at a Grand Rapids veterans home where some residential care aide positions had been privatized. “To me, it’s just another indictment of the Republican philosophy that privatization fixes everything.” Prisoners in an Upper Peninsula facility staged a protest in March that was prompted, in part, by frustrations with food quality. But Gautz said food was one of several concerns those prisoners had raised. The department has a solid working relationship with Trinity and is holding the company to its contract, he said. “Things ebb and flow, but I think on a trend line they are getting better,” Gautz said. “Things are improving, and we want to see them continue to improve. These fines will continue to be assessed.”

Michigan Reformatory
Ionia Michigan
Jan 9, 2016
Prison food worker under investigation for alleged drug smuggling
IONIA, MI -- A former food services worker is under investigation for allegedly smuggling drugs into an Ionia prison. A Michigan State Police spokesperson confirmed detectives are investigating allegations that a Trinity Services Group worker smuggled drugs into Michigan Reformatory, a Level II and IV prison that houses men. Michigan Department of Corrections put a stop order on the employee Sept. 11. The Florida-based food services group later fired the worker. The state police spokesperson declined to release further details about the case due to the open investigation. Charges have not been filed. Trinity took control of prison food service in September after the state cancelled a three-year, $145 million contract with Aramark following performance marked by controversy. Aramark was accused of employee misconduct and inappropriate relationships with inmates, maggot-related food incidents, and inadequate staffing. The contract with Aramark was scheduled to run until September 2016.