18 December 2017


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Maria walked up to me behind the [serving] line, arms spread across a cyan-colored rack bearing the usual red, yellow, blue and white bags that seal loaves of highly processed bread with a twist tie.

“What you want me to do with it?”

“Well, this stuff [than the bread we already had in the kitchen] is fresher, so we need to rotate out the older bread so we use that first.”

Then I looked at the rack closer.



“Wait, what the hell is this?” I asked.

“Bread,” she answered.

“Yeah, I see that, but…”

Then I asked the supervisor.

“Johnko, what is this, this?” and I pointed to the Bimbos.


“Bimbo brand bread? In a women’s facility? Are you kidding me?”

“It’s Mexican. Beeembo. See? Says it on the label.”

The bag sported a Pillsbury dough boy knock-off, a white bear, pronouncing the brand name because someone, somewhere, knew this was bad marketing.

“It also says that it’s the bread that lasts forever. That’s a real claim to freshness. I know we get these dog brands and cast-offs and odd-lot foods, but really? Bimbo?”

“Beeembo. I told you. It’s Mexican.” Johnko shrugged, like that was sufficient to explain the world’s worst marketing plan, one, incidentally, that’s apparently effective on the people who surround me now.

“I seen these shits before,” Maria defended the Bimbos.

“These are sold here? I thought when he said it was Mexican it was some foreign food that we got for a low price.”

“Yeah, in bodegas. They got it in there,” Maria offered. She sort-of caught my pseudo-righteous feminism.

“Well, I, I don’t shop there and I’ve never seen this,” I huffed. I’m not so easily shocked that the Bimbos would bowl me over but the people selling this bread in the U.S. weren’t even trying to make it an attractive buy which, to me, means one of two things. Either the product was so good it was a guaranteed sale or it was the only product around so it was a guaranteed sale.

I had wandered again into a desert, and not the usual wiggly heat of confusion blocking my view as I looked for the oasis of freedom. I was witnessing the effects of a food desert, an area with low-income and minority residents that has limited access to affordable and nutritious food. Being poor isn’t just not being able to afford stuff. It’s not being able to afford stuff that’s inferior quality because you can’t access the better, more affordable stuff that is produced and packaged by people with a wit of sense. Imagine Stop and Shop near me selling Bimbo bread that lasts forever. It would have to be so cheap that it was free. And even then, no one in my family would buy it. But other people have to. And they don’t have the luxury of taking offense at faulty branding like I do.

“Surely they hired a marketing expert who should’ve picked another name for the bread and another slogan. I mean, perpetual bread? That’s not even how they describe the fucking Eucharist.”

“I dunno,” Maria said and was moving on without me. “You still want me to rotate these racks?”

“Sure. I guess this prison’s lesson for me? That the staff of life is a bimbo?” I asked anyone and no one. I figured that was the last word on the topic but [another kitchen supervisor] Ms. Van Damme had walked in behind me to answer.

“Wait, what’re you saying about the staff?” she asked.


VERY IMPORTANT: Floridians for a Fair Democracy needs more signatures for its petition to add Voting Restoration Amendment to the 2018 ballot (restoring voting rights to people with criminal records after completion of their sentences). If you live in Florida, sign the petition here. If you don’t live in Florida, share the link with your friends and associates who do. And, if you’re a Republican and you think that restoring voting rights to people convicted of felonies is handing votes to the opposition, read my op-ed in The Tampa Bay Times here. Keeping anyone from voting – in addition to being immoral and violating the principles on which this country was founded – will actually hurt Republicans in the long run. People need to sign the petition by December 31, 2017.

Most people missed this, but a poll conducted by Emerson College in advance of Tuesday’s election in Alabama to choose the senator who will replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions found that voters with felony records supported Roy Moore over eventual winner Doug Jones. It was a small sample, but go figure.

Rates of imprisonment amongst blacks are going down and they have been for a while. Read about it here, a joint venture between The Marshall Project and The Washington Post‘s Wonkette blog.



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Posted December 18, 2017 by chandra in category "Prison Food

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