Alcatraz was known as a “maximum security, minimum privilege” prison. Food and medical care, however, were not considered privileges. They were necessities provided to all inmates.
The food was prepared by inmate workers, under the supervision of correctional officers trained in food service management.
Three meals a day were served, cafeteria style. Inmates could take as much of whatever they wanted, provide they finished all the food they took. A rotating schedule of menus authorized by Public Health Service nutritionists ensured that meals met nutritional standards, and were varied.

A typical supper menu included soup, a green salad or vegetable, starches [bread or rolls, and potatoes, rice, or pasta], a meat entree, and dessert [pie, cake, or ice cream]. Special meals, usually including turkey with oyster dressing, were served at holidays, along with special gift packages containing candy, fruit, and cigarettes. An inmate musical combo sometimes performed at mealtimes.

The prison administration undertook a serious effort to make meals as satisfying as possible to the inmates. This prevented unnecessary inmate disturbances over poor food.

Eating in Dining Romm GOGA 35178d
The US Public Health Service was responsible for inmate medical care. There was a small hospital on the second floor of the cell house, above the dining hall. It featured several small wards, equipped with an operating room and dental chair, and staffed by Public Health Service physicians, dentists, and pharmacists. Sick call was held every afternoon. Inmates were examined and treated as necessary.

Emergency care was available for inmates or staff injured in fights or attacks. According to the memoirs of Dr. Milton Daniel Beacher, the Public Health Service Medical Officer at the prison in the late 1930s, “Alcatraz was probably the cleanest institution of its kind,” with strict sanitary procedures observed in the kitchen, and with compulsory hygiene standards requiring all inmates to shower regularly and wear clean clothes.

Serving the Christmas Meal GOGA 40046-008
Cup GOGA 9323
Knife Cabinet with Shadowboard
Medicine Bottle GOGA 17569
Cup and Saucer GOGA 9318, 9319 Bowl GOGA 9320 Mugs GOGA 9321, 9322 Tray GOGA 9361 Eating Utensils GOGA 10097, 10151, 10086, 10093, 9460, 13198, 18632 Medicine Bottles GOGA 9917, 9918 GOGA 9947, 9198
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