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ND, Minn. jails seek savings on food

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GRAND FORKS — The county jail in Grand Forks and regional jail in Crookston, Minn., are exploring what may be a first — a collaborative effort by jails in two states to provide meal service to inmates under one contract.

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Requests for proposals were sent out Friday to companies that specialize in meal service — including special diets — for correctional facilities.

Administrators hope to increase efficiency and save money for participating counties.

“We’re just testing the waters to see if we can’t save taxpayers some money,” Grand Forks County Correctional Center Administrator Bret Burkholder said. “Crossing state lines, it’s kind of cool.”

“I’ve never been involved in a partnership like this, two jails, let alone two that are in different states,” Tri-County Administrator Phil Greer said. “So, it’s going to be interesting to see what we can do with our combined buying power.”

The Grand Forks jail averages about 180 inmates per day. Tri-County Community Corrections in Crookston averages about 170, including adults and juveniles. It serves Polk, Norman and Red Lake counties.

On average, Grand Forks County and Tri-County serve a total of about 380,000 meals annually at an average cost of $1.60 per meal. So, each nickel in savings per meal could mean a potential combined savings of $19,000 between the facilities.

Incidentally, both facilities currently are served under separate contracts by the same vendor, Catering by Marlins, based in Sioux Falls, S.D.

The requests for proposals are being sent to CBM, as well as two other firms that also provide similar services in the region. The deadline for application is May 30.

Burkholder said the current contract with CBM requires a 60-day notice for cancellation.

“We’re trying to collaborate as much as possible in areas that not only provide good service but provide a cost savings to our counties,” Greer said.

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Kevin Bonham
Kevin Bonham covers regional news, mostly from northeast North Dakota, for the Grand Forks Herald. A North Dakota native who grew up in Mandan and Dickinson, he has been a reporter or an editor with the Herald and Forum Communications for more than 30 years. Find his articles at: www.grandforksherald.com. He welcomes story ideas via email, kbonham@gfherald.com, or by phone, (701) 780-1110.  
(701) 780-1110
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