Just about everyone who’s been to the grocery store in the past two years has been alarmed by the rise in the prices of their favorite foods.

Those inflationary pressures have hit restaurants and other food providers as well – for instance, the Guilford County jails.

The two county jails – one in downtown Greensboro and one in downtown High Point – aren’t known for their fine dining, but even the no-frills meals served at those two establishments are jumping up in price.

On Thursday, June 1, the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department got approval from the Guilford County Board of Commissioners to pay just over $1.8 million to Aramark Correctional Services LLC to feed the county’s inmates in the coming fiscal year.  That’s $124,000 more than the amount being paid for that service in the current fiscal year that ends on June 30.

The price increase will take effect on July 1 and will last through the fiscal year.

There are bad things about being in jail, but there are some perks too.  For instance, as they say, you get “three hots and a cot.”  Leaving aside the question as to whether jail meals are actually served hot every time, it is true that the inmates won’t even notice those price hikes since one good thing about being in jail is that the meals are on the house.

Though county taxpayers will be paying more.  In two years, the cost of feeding inmates has gone up by about $400,000.

In 2021, the Board of Commissioners approved a contract with Aramark totaling $1,415,280 to provide food services for the inmates in both jails. The one-year contract had an option to renew for each of the following four years,

At the beginning of the Sheriff’s Department’s negotiations with Aramark for the new fiscal 2023-2024 contract, Aramark initially sought an increase of over 12 percent across the board to provide the service.

Sheriff’s Department staff agreed that, given the nationally recognized increase in food costs and other costs, the company should be given more for the service, but they considered a 12 percent increase too much.  That 12 percent request was negotiated to 8 percent and even below 8 percent for some related services.