Denver, CO

Update: Denver jail menu may include tetrazzini, chili mac, macaroni and cheese

David Heitz
Photo byEmiliano Bar/Unsplash

By David Heitz / NewsBreak Denver

(Denver, Colo.) A Denver City Council committee awarded a $25 million contract Wednesday to Trinity Services Group, Inc. to provide food in Denver’s jails for 42 months. That comes to $555,555 per month.

Items on the menu will include chili mac, macaroni and cheese and tetrazzini, according to a jail official. The full City Council still needs to approve the contract.

The new contract would begin June 30 and expire Dec. 31, 2026. Trinity would provide meals for 1,700 inmates at Denver’s downtown detention facility, Smith Road county jail and Community Corrections Impact Center. Food also would be provided for 400 Denver Sheriff’s Department staff members with the capacity to feed 800 employees.

“The scope (of the contract) offers appealing, nutritious, and appetizing meals to inmates and staff,” according to a memo from city staff to the council. The jail put proposed food vendors through a taste test.

‘Taste testing’ made provider stand out

The memo states Trinity’s contract represents an increase over the current contract. “Their response to the original (request for proposals), subsequent interview, and taste testing made them stand out as an industry leader. Their projected skill, professionalism, and quality of service, coupled with the industry wide increase in food service costs in general, are compelling factors that justify the increased cost of the pending contract.”

Jail officials said the previous contractor was not providing large enough portions to inmates.

The previous food service contract for the jail system totaled $9 million for two years. The memo says awarding the contract to Trinity Services Group “will alleviate challenges currently being experienced by the (Denver Sheriff’s Department) and bring stability to the food service program as a whole.”

Denver decided to contract out food service for the jails several years ago after experiencing a staffing shortage.

Inmate cooking program, mini mart for employees

The contract includes a culinary arts program for qualified inmates, according to the memo. There also will be mini markets at both the downtown and county jails for employees.

Trinity Services Group Inc. is based in Albuquerque, N.M. Only two companies submitted proposals for the contract out of about 175 requests for proposals.

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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career in editing roles at community newspapers in Southern California and the Quad-Cities of Illinois and Iowa. Upon moving to Denver in 2018, I began experiencing severe mental illness due to several traumatic experiences. I became homeless on the street for about a year before spending time in the state mental hospital. I am proof that people can rebound from even severe mental illness with proper treatment. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in a great place like Denver. I hope my writing reflects the passion I have for living in the Mile High City. You can email me news releases and story ideas at

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