Hundreds of prisoners will be learning valuable catering skills by preparing and cooking meals this Christmas Day.
“A basic, nutritious meal will be served on Christmas Day, with roast chicken, gravy and vegetables for lunch, and chicken luncheon, relish and salad sandwiches for dinner, along with two Christmas mince pies to acknowledge the day,” says Neil Beales, Chief Custodial Officer. “This is the same meal that has been served for a number of years”.
All meals in prison are cooked by prisoners taking part in industry training and employment in prison kitchens, under the supervision of qualified instructors. This gives prisoners skills which prepare them for employment upon release.
“Christmas Day is much the same as any other day in prison, but where possible we offer additional sports and activities,” says Mr Beales.
“We know Christmas can be a really difficult time, particularly for the families of those in prison. Throughout December we run a number of family days where children can visit their mum or dad in prison and read books, make gifts and play games to make the Christmas period special.”
Our staff and people in prison have also been busy giving back to the community in the lead up to Christmas this year.
“For many of the approximately 9,000 people in prison, the lead up to Christmas provides the opportunity to make a difference in their community, and gives them a sense of purpose,” says Mr Beales.
“Giving back to the community is an important step towards people in prison making a positive change in their lives.”
At Tongariro Prison, men working in the prison nursery have grown and donated fresh vegetables to the Tūrangi Foodbank. Prisoners have also made planter boxes from wood pallets to donate to Korohe Marae.
Auckland Prison is also donating produce to a number of charities this festive season. Men working in the site’s nursery grow 6-7 tonnes of fresh vegetables for people in need each year, and they gain important skills and qualifications while doing it.
People in Dunedin on community work sentences have made wooden Christmas trees, learning tool safety, craftsmanship and teamwork. The trees have been donated to schools in the region, where children have decorated them.
Staff at prisons and Community Corrections sites across the country have also been busy spreading Christmas cheer through collecting and donating food and toys to local charities.
“It’s important for us to recognise that many of our staff will be working right throughout the break,” says Mr Beales.
“Corrections operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, so I really want to acknowledge our incredible frontline staff who will be working hard throughout the holiday period, including on Christmas Day. Thank you to each and every one of you for your commitment to keeping the public safe.”