Orange County Commissioners have approved a contract for $11 million to build a new kitchen and laundry facility at its jail. Major Rich Powell with Orange County Corrections says the biggest reason is age. The current facility is 30 years old.
"It's been used over it's capacity since the day it opened. It was originally designed for somewhere around 6 thousand meals a day, and since the day that we've opened, we've produced anywhere between 10 and 15 thousand meals a day, and so it's very tired."
Building a kitchen that can function for all of the prisoners that are housed at the jail creates a whole new set of challenges, and a higher price tag according to Major Powell.
"When you're pushing out 10 to 15 thousand meals a day, it's more than just the kitchen at your house, so you have to look at the inflow, the outflow, the security aspects of it."
One aspect of that inflow and outflow is food safety. In its current configuration, cooked food that is uneaten often travels in the same area as waste food that has been eaten. Major Powell also says new kitchen equipment being brought in may save taxpayers money over the course of the 25 year life expectancy of this new kitchen.
"The operation that we are doing now is extremely wasteful, water wise, electric wise. All the new equipment that's put in there will be energy efficient."
The new kitchen will be able to serve 6,000 inmates, more than the current capacity at the jail, and nearly double the current inmate population of 3,100. The $11 million price tag also includes a new laundry room. More than 3 million pounds of laundry are washed each year at the jail.