Guidelines 880-1
Food Services Program


Number: 880-1

In Effect: 2019-06-28

Related links

Policy Bulletin 641



To ensure meals provided to the inmate population meet the appropriate nutritional and food safety standards for Canadians such as Canada’s Food Guides and the Food Safety Code of Practice for Canada’s Foodservice Industry

To define the role of all stakeholders providing feeding to inmates

To ensure the provision of food services complies with requirements specific to the institution and to the inmates


Applies to all staff and contractors involved in the provision of food services to inmates



  1. The Senior Manager, Food Services, will promulgate the National Menu and provide guidance in support of the Food Services Program, including the Nutrition Management Program.
  2. The Regional Food Services Managers will:
    1. coordinate all food services activities within the region
    2. ensure compliance with national policies
    3. plan and develop inmate training programs
    4. prepare reports using performance measurement tools.
  3. Food Services Managers at the institutions will:
    1. provide meals that comply with the standards of Canada’s Food Guides for the general population and are within allotted budgets
    2. provide therapeutic diets as recorded in the Food Services Information Management System (FSIMS) that are prescribed by the Regional Dietitian or Physician for specific medical conditions
    3. provide religious diets approved by Chaplaincy and diets of conscience approved by the Institutional Head or delegate for inmates having specific dietary requirements for religious or freedom of conscience reasons.


National Menu

  1. The National Menu promulgated by the Senior Manager, Food Services, will be followed in all institutions for all inmates, including for therapeutic diets, religious diets and diets of conscience, except in women’s institutions and in Small Group Meal Preparation (SGMP) program settings, where the National SGMP Grocery List will be used.
  2. The National Menu:
    1. is developed by National Headquarters (NHQ) Food Services in consultation with key stakeholders and Inmate Committees
    2. is a four-week cycle menu which also includes therapeutic, religious and conscience-based modifications
    3. has a meal pattern established based on Canada’s Food Guides and reflects a healthy choice menu based on the recommendations of Canada’s Food Guides, including sodium intake recommendations
    4. is reviewed at least annually by NHQ Food Services and is supported by a registered Dietitian
    5. can be used in all types of feeding situations.
  3. In women’s institutions:
    1. the National SGMP Grocery List will be used in SGMP program settings
    2. a menu for centralized production and distribution within each of the women’s institutions will:
      1. be developed by the Food Services Manager in consultation with the Regional Dietitian
      2. consist of a four-week cycle menu which will also include therapeutic, religious and conscience-based modifications
      3. have a meal pattern established based on Canada’s Food Guides and reflect a healthy choice menu based on the recommendations of Canada’s Food Guides, including sodium intake recommendations
      4. be reviewed and supported by a registered Dietitian at least annually.
  4. The National Menu enables all Food Services Managers to:
    1. meet the nutritional needs of inmates in accordance with Canada’s Food Guides
    2. ensure consistency of menu offering across the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC)
    3. maximize limited resources.


  1. Special diets for inmates are approved pursuant to the approval authority table outlined in the Special Diets section of CD 880 – Food Services and are addressed in GL 880-2 – Nutrition Management Program, GL 880-3 – Religious Diets and GL 880-4 – Diets of Conscience.
  2. The Food Services Manager will ensure that sufficient stocks of any special food items are available to meet the inmates’ dietary requirements.
  3. Dietary requirements of Indigenous offenders can be found in Annex A (Definitions) and Annex F of CD 702 – Indigenous Offenders as well as in Canada’s Food Guide – First Nations, Inuit and Métis.

Food Procurement

  1. All food products procured for use in CSC institutions will conform to the requirements of:
    1. CSC rules and regulations on purchasing pursuant to Financial Directive (FD) 350-3 – Contracting
    2. applicable Canadian acts and regulations governing food products (as listed in Annex A).

Food Deliveries

  1. Food deliveries must be checked on receipt to ensure:
    1. food items, quality and quantities match what was ordered based on the purchase order or standing offer call-up and what is listed on the invoice
    2. perishables are fresh and not bruised or otherwise damaged
    3. canned goods are intact, not damaged or leaking
    4. frozen foods do not show evidence of thawing
    5. no contraband is present.
  2. Food items that are not satisfactory will not be accepted and the supplier will replace sub-standard goods with goods that meet the specified quality based on the conditions of the procurement vehicle used to buy the goods.

Inventory Control

  1. Inventory levels will be kept to a minimum level to meet the operational requirements of Food Services. The minimum level will not exceed 30 days’ value for centralized production and distribution operations and 15 days for SGMP operations.

Custody and Control of Food and Supplies

  1. Until consumed, all food is the property of CSC. Food and supplies will be stored as soon as possible following receipt.
  2. All storerooms and refrigeration units will be kept locked at all times, except when receiving and issuing food and/or supplies. Keys for the storerooms and refrigeration units will be kept in a secure location with access limited to Food Services staff.
  3. Any incidence of suspected theft of food must be reported immediately to the Food Services Manager or Correctional Manager following established institutional procedures.
  4. The Institutional Head may authorize a frisk search of all inmates in the kitchen area when theft of an item is suspected, pursuant to CD 566-7 – Searching of Inmates.
  5. Regular random inspections of the kitchen areas, as directed by the Institutional Head, should be conducted to minimize the possibility of production of any unauthorized substances (brews, etc.) or of equipment tampering.
  6. Inmates responsible for any willful loss or waste of food products in their care may be subject to disciplinary measures pursuant to CD 580 – Discipline of Inmates.
  7. Food issued to inmates for the SGMP Program will be used solely for the purposes of meal preparation.
  8. On transfer or release, inmates are not authorized to:
    1. distribute food to other inmates, or
    2. remove food from the premises or from an individual housing unit. Any food remaining in an inmate’s housing unit following their transfer or release should be returned to the Food Services area.

Food Services Equipment Procurement

  1. All food service equipment procured for use in CSC institutions will:
    1. conform to the requirements of CSC rules and regulations on purchasing pursuant to FD 350-3 – Contracting
    2. be procured from any existing standing offers or supply arrangements developed at the national level. If there is no standing offer or supply arrangement available for a certain type of equipment, support from NHQ Food Services must be sought to ensure standardization of equipment across the country.
  2. For goods and services that are available from CORCAN, CORCAN must be considered as a source of supply.

Bartering of Food

  1. Food and supplies purchased by CSC Food Services, using public funds, are for meals and/or Institutional Head approved functions for inmates. Food is not to be sold or bartered to any individual or organization.

Food Production

  1. Cook-Chill Regional Food Production Centres – Many menu items will be prepared using first principles cookery in one of the institutions that have been designated as Regional Food Production Centres, using standardized recipes and cook-chill and reduced oxygen packaging technology. This method of preparation is to maximize resources and minimize waste. These food items will be shipped to institutions which use the products from the cook-chill facility and are designated as finishing kitchens.
  2. Centralized Production and Distribution – In all facilities where food is prepared and served either with or without food products from the production centres, standardized recipes will be used to ensure consistency in product quality, yield and cost and ensure inmates on various diet restrictions receive food that meets their requirements. Inmates in a centralized production and distribution setting will not be given raw food/basic ingredients to prepare meals.

Security of Equipment

  1. The Institutional Head will be responsible for ensuring that appropriate procedures are in place for effective tool control through institutional Standing Orders.
  2. Food Services staff will ensure that control of knives, meat forks and other sharp instruments is done in compliance with the Standing Orders of the institution.
  3. All food services equipment, including the kitchen equipment in the living units for SGMP sites, should be checked on a weekly basis by Security staff to ensure that it has not been altered, vandalized or otherwise stripped of parts (particularly electrical) and that it is in working order. If it is not in working order, it should be removed from the area.
  4. All incidents of equipment malfunction or unauthorized alterations should be reported to the Food Services Manager immediately.
  5. Inmates responsible for any willful damage or loss of the food services equipment in their care may be subject to disciplinary measures pursuant to CD 580 – Discipline of Inmates.

Food Safety

  1. The Food Safety Code of Practice for Canada’s Foodservice Industry is the cornerstone for all aspects of food safety in CSC.
  2. Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) is used by CSC Food Services to ensure food prepared in the Regional Food Production Centres is safe. Along with good manufacturing practices, it is one of the quality assurance tools used by the food service industry to provide safe food at an acceptable quality. It is based on standards and criteria established by the Senior Manager, Food Services.
  3. The use of HACCP is mandatory in all food preparation facilities designated as Regional Food Production Centres. A food safety program that meets the requirements as established by the Senior Manager, Food Services, will be in place in all other kitchens including a process for documenting practices.
  4. CSC does not assume responsibility for any food item obtained from sources other than CSC Food Services and brought into the institution by faith communities or service organizations for inmates’ consumption.

Food Sanitation Inspection

  1. In addition to weekly inspections of a facility by the Food Services Manager or delegate, each region will arrange (at its expense) for an annual inspection of all food services premises, excluding SGMP, within the region by a third party independent qualified food premises inspector. The results of these inspections will be forwarded to the Regional Food Services Manager who will determine what follow-up action, if any, is required.
  2. The independent living unit kitchens used in the SGMP sites will be inspected by the Food Services Manager or delegate on a monthly basis and more frequently, if required.

Infectious Diseases

  1. There is no requirement for inmates to have, prior to employment in food services, a pre-screening medical examination to detect the presence of any infectious diseases which can be spread through direct or indirect contact, i.e. bodily fluids.
  2. Food Services Managers must refer inmate workers to Health Services and employees to their family physicians with the following conditions:
    1. an open, weeping skin lesion or wound
    2. upper respiratory infection (cold, flu)
    3. gastro-intestinal infection (diarrhea, vomiting)
    4. poor personal hygiene
    5. any other health problem they believe should be referred for treatment.
  3. Any inmate or staff member with an open sore or an infectious disease which can be passed through direct or indirect contact will not be employed in the food preparation areas until medically cleared to return to work.
  4. When dealing with the presence of blood and/or body fluids, all Food Services staff will use routine practices and procedures pursuant to GL 800-7 – Cleaning Blood and/or Other Body Fluid Spills, regardless of infection status.

Accident Reporting

  1. Any potential accident hazard must be reported to the Food Services Manager who will take appropriate action to reduce the risk.
  2. All accidents, no matter how small or insignificant, will be reported, recorded and remedial action taken to prevent recurrence. Refer to the following policies for further guidance and direction on accident reporting and management for inmates and for staff: CD 234 – Claims for Staff Personal Effects and Inmate Personal Effects and the Offender Accident Compensation Program, CD 041 – Incident Investigations and GL 254-2 – Return to Work Program.

Fire Safety

  1. All Food Services staff will follow the fire safety regulations and procedures of CSC pursuant to CD 345 – Fire Safety.
  2. Clothing and fabrics with oil or grease stains will not be stored in enclosed spaces due to the risk of spontaneous combustion.

Waste Management

  1. Food Services operations have a large environmental footprint. They produce a large portion of an institution’s solid waste and use large amounts of water. To ensure compliance with all CSC’s environmental programs, Food Services Managers and personnel will actively participate in the institution’s waste management initiatives and follow CD 318 – Environmental Programs and related guidelines.

Inmate Training and Employment

  1. Opportunities exist for inmate training and employment in Food Services kitchens, including SGMP sites. Whenever possible and appropriate, Food Services will provide meaningful employment opportunities for inmates to assist them to become law-abiding citizens by developing work, social and life skills.
  2. The Food Services Manager will prepare, distribute and post a work schedule for all institutional food services inmate workers.
  3. The training for inmates living in the SGMP setting will be provided by qualified CSC staff and will address the following specific areas:
    1. nutrition and healthy eating practices
    2. basic food preparation methods
    3. menu planning/shopping/budgeting
    4. food and personal safety and sanitation.
  4. To maximize the social and learning experiences offered by the SGMP Program, including household budgeting and cost control, inmates will be strongly encouraged to pool resources and cooperate in daily food-related activities.
  5. In SGMP sites, Food Services staff will provide support to inmates on food-related questions and problems. Food Services staff will also ensure that basic food preparation references and food equipment manuals for living unit kitchen equipment are available on the unit’s premises for inmates’ use.
  6. In institutions where externally accredited food services training programs are being offered, Food Services staff will assist in the delivery of the program.
  7. Food Services staff will pursue the possibility of the certification of training given to inmates by giving certificates, whether they are internal (CSC) or external (community college and/or provincial trade certificates), for completion of in-house training.

Timings for Meals

  1. Under normal circumstances, when there is no lockdown in effect, the first meal of the day, based on the National Menu, will be served no later than 0800 hours. The remaining meals on the National Menu will be scheduled no less than four hours and no more than five hours apart.
  2. The scheduling of meal times will be left to the discretion of the Institutional Head or delegate in consultation with Food Services following the established standards.

Box Lunches for Court Appearances/Outside Appointments/Transfers

  1. If an inmate is required to appear in court or to attend an appointment outside the institution, a box lunch should be provided according to established institutional procedures when it is anticipated the inmate will be absent over a meal period. Inmates in a SGMP setting are responsible for preparing their own box lunch.
  2. Box lunches should be ordered from Food Services at least 48 hours in advance whenever possible via an email to the Food Services Manager. The email should indicate the inmate’s name and the time it is required for pickup by the escort.
  3. The box lunch must comply with any approved therapeutic or religious diet or diets of conscience and meet the National Menu standards to ensure compliance with Canada’s Food Guides.
  4. If a box lunch is no longer required, the staff member who ordered the lunch is responsible to contact the Food Services Manager and cancel the order.

Small Group Meal Preparation (SGMP)

  1. Food and supplies issued to inmates participating in the SGMP Program will be used solely for the purposes of their meal preparation.
  2. Inmates will be responsible for managing their food costs within the allocated budget. Grocery lists available for the inmates must comply with the National SGMP Grocery List. Grocery orders are vetted by the Food Services Manager or SGMP Coordinator.
  3. The Food Services Manager is responsible to maintain records pertaining to food and supplies purchased in support of the SGMP Program.
  4. The Food Services Manager will establish procedures to control the level of grocery items in the living units as appropriate.

Emergency Feeding

  1. There should be a minimum of seven days’ supply of food on hand in the event of an inmate conflict, interruption of food deliveries, or other emergency, particularly in remote sites where alternative sources of food supply are not readily available.


  1. Each Institutional Head, with the assistance of the Food Services Manager, will be responsible for the development and promulgation of a Standing Order on the provision of food services to ensure that appropriate procedures to feed inmates are put in place when a lockdown is in effect. Every effort should be made to maintain menu compliance with Canada’s Food Guides.

Special Occasions

  1. Special occasion menus are available in the Food Services Information Management System (FSIMS) for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. If other special occasion menus are required, they should be submitted to NHQ Food Services for consideration in order to maintain consistency across CSC.

Use of Barbeques

  1. Barbeque-style meals for food preparation and service will be used for:
    1. planned meals by Food Services staff
    2. the SGMP Program for medium-security inmates (up to once per month, weekends only)
    3. the SGMP Program for minimum-security inmates
    4. private family visits.

Other Food Services Activities

  1. Any special event involving the preparation and service of food does not fall under the purview of Food Services if it is not mandated by CD 880 – Food Services. This includes involvement of Food Services in the supervision of non-food services personnel as well as the use of Food Services’ equipment and facilities.
  2. In addition to providing food to inmates, Food Services can be responsible for providing food and services, as required, in support of the following programs:
    1. Hospitality – Subject to the provisions of the Financial Administration Act and Treasury Board Directive on Travel, Hospitality, Conference and Event Expenditures, pre-approved hospitality (i.e. meals and/or non-alcoholic beverages) may be provided to staff members, authorized guests and eligible organizations outside of an institution.
    2. Private Family Visits – The Food Services Manager will give each inmate eligible for a private family visit food in an amount equal to the approved per diem for each day of the visit according to the approved national private family visit list. Inmates who participate in the SGMP Program will receive a basket of goods equivalent to the approved per diem amount of food for each day of the visit, based on the approved National SGMP Grocery List. Supplies provided by Food Services will be distributed to the inmate in the private family visit unit as per the established institutional practice (i.e. either by Food Services or Visits and Correspondence staff).


  1. The budget for Food Services in each institution is based on the daily rate established for the provision of three meals per inmate according to the minimal requirements of Canada’s Food Guides. The budget allocation also considers non-food items such as smallwares, equipment, maintenance and food premises inspections.

Cost Recovery

  1. All expenses incurred for the provision of food and beverages for hospitality, as approved by the Institutional Head, will be recovered by Food Services from the appropriate budget manager in the form of journal vouchers.

Food Services Reporting and Performance Measurement

  1. Institutional Food Services Managers will use the Food Services Information Management System (FSIMS), which interfaces with the Integrated Financial and Materiel Management System (IFMMS) for various food service activities.
  2. FSIMS allows CSC to standardize and rationalize food services nationally and is comprised of the following three components:
    1. Inventory Management and Procurement – to manage stock levels, ordering and receipt of food and non-food items for all CSC institutions
    2. Menu and Recipe Management – to catalogue menus and recipes and streamline procurement and distribution of food
    3. Production Scheduling and Control – for Food Services to schedule meal production and forecast inventory.

Assistant Commissioner, Corporate Services/
Chief Financial Officer

Original signed by:

Tony Matson

Annex A - Cross-references and Definitions


CD 041 – Incident Investigations
CD 234 – Claims for Staff Personal Effects and Inmate Personal Effects and the Offender Accident Compensation Program
GL 254-2 – Return to Work Program
CD 318 – Environmental Programs
ISD 318-2 – Energy Measurement and Conservation
ISD 318-6 – Management of Wastewater Treatment Systems
ISD 318-7 – Environmental Management of Waste
GL 318-10 – Drinking Water Quality Management
CD 345 – Fire Safety
FD 350-3 – Contracting
CD 566-7 – Searching of Inmates
CD 580 – Discipline of Inmates
CD 702 – Indigenous Offenders
GL 750-1 – Inmate Religious Accommodations
GL 800-7 – Cleaning Blood and/or Other Body Fluids Spills
CD 880 – Food Services
GL 880-2 – Nutrition Management Program
GL 880-3 – Religious Diets
GL 880-4 – Diets of Conscience

CSC National Essential Health Services Framework

Canada’s Food Guide
Canada’s Food Guide – First Nations, Inuit and Métis
Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act
Financial Administration Act
Food and Drugs Act and Food and Drug Regulations
Food Safety Code of Practice for Canada’s Foodservice Industry (Note: the hyperlink to this Code leads to an English-only non-government website; however, both English and French versions of the Code may be ordered by clicking on the relevant buttons at the end of the home page.)
Safe Food for Canadians Act
Treasury Board Directive on Travel, Hospitality, Conference and Event Expenditures


Centralized production and distribution: meals are prepared in a central kitchen and delivered in one or more of the following ways:

  1. cafeteria style – all food is placed on trays and served to the inmate
  2. satellite meal delivery
    1. bulk food carts (hot or cold) – food is sent in bulk from the kitchen to the range serveries where the meals are assembled and distributed to inmates
    2. tray service carts – food is portioned onto individual trays, placed in carts with temperature control mechanisms/insulation to retain the appropriate serving temperatures (heated or ambient).

Contractor: a person providing services of a prescribed class to CSC under a contract.

Cook-chill: food preservation method in which food is prepared and portioned, cooked, and then chilled to 1°C in a central kitchen.

Diet of conscience: a diet an individual chooses to eat based on his/her strongly held moral beliefs (see Annex B of GL 880-4 – Diets of Conscience, for a more detailed definition).

First principles cookery: this is more commonly known as “food prepared from scratch” or food that is not convenience or pre-made.

Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP): a systematic preventive approach to food safety and allergenic, chemical, and biological hazards in production processes that can cause the finished product to be unsafe. This approach helps to design measures to reduce these risks to a safe level.

Religious diet: a diet based on a religious belief, e.g. Kosher, Halal.

Routine practices: a set of precautions to be employed at all times when a person is in contact with potentially infectious materials such as blood and body fluids.

Therapeutic diet: a diet prescribed by a Physician and/or Dietitian as part of treatment protocols for an inmate, e.g. diabetic, no added salt.

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