Pennsylvania Prison Ends ‘Food Loaf’ Punishment for Misbehaving Prisoners

Pennsylvania Department of Corrections
Pennsylvania Department of Corrections

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections has put an end to its criticized “food loaf” policy, a form of punishment for misbehaving prisoners, where their meals are stirred into one unappetizing mass, baked into a crusty brick, and served cold in a wax wrapper.

According to, the Department of Corrections ended the “food loaf” policy in an effort to “humanize” how the most dangerous and quarrelsome prisoners are treated, the department’s executive deputy secretary, Shirley Moore Smeal, said.

The loaves, made of rice, raw potatoes, carrots, cabbage, and oatmeal, were replaced by a more nutritionally balanced meal delivered in a paper bag to inmates deemed deserving of a “behavior-modifying meal.” While still not as appetizing as a regular prison meal, the new behavior modifying meal is a welcome change to inmates.

“Inmates weren’t happy with food loaves,” said John Hargreaves, director of volunteers for the Pennsylvania Prison Society. “Nobody will miss them.”

The policy change comes after the state settled a lawsuit over treatment of inmates in the prison system and forms just a part of a series of changes meant to satisfy reformers.

New York’s Department of Corrections eliminated a similar program last year as a result of a lawsuit.

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