Prison food vs. school lunches: any difference?

(ThinkStock photos)(ThinkStock photos)School lunch is a lot like prison food, only worse. An infographic created by Good Magazine comparing the average detention grub with the average elementary school fare shows a very similar tray breakdown.

Both offer a calorie count of around 1400, and both cost little more than $2.60 per person per day. The big difference, according to their research, sourced from national statistics, is that prisoners get a little more bang for the buck.

The average prison meal and the average elementary school lunch both consist of one bread item, one starch item and one beverage. But kids get an ounce less meat and they're usually skimped on either veggies or fruits. Overall prisoners have more options and a little more heft to their meal.

It's not the first time school and prison food have gone head to head. Institutional food, be it prisons or schools, often share the same mass distributers. (Aramark is one of the biggest food service providers for both prisons and schools.) They've also shared the same grub. Last month, the Massachusetts Department of Education donated thousands of cases of expired school lunches to prisons, from fruit and cheese to chicken. Much of it was rejected by prisons since it had passed the expiration date. But the only reason it was being offered to prisoners in the first place was because schools were under fire for feeding students the same past-due food.

Thanks to several national campaigns school food programs are under pressure to expand their healthy options for kids, but some initiatives take a correctional approach to curbing obesity. In San Antonio, school cafeterias are installing surveillance cameras that will snap photos of the contents of each student's tray to increase awareness about what kids are eating. Here's an idea: skip the cameras and just watch a marathon of "Locked-Up". With the cash saved, go buy students some veggies.

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