16 September 2020
[FYI request #13272 email]
Tēnā koe Ms Ferguson
Thank you for your email of 10 July 2020, requesting information about
mealtimes in remand units in New Zealand prisons. Your request has been
considered under the Official Information Act 1982 (OIA).
You requested the following information:
For each of the remand units, I'd like to know at what times of
day/afternoon/evening the prisoners are served breakfast, lunch and
Corrections is committed to providing meals that meet the Ministry of Health,
Food and Nutrition Guidelines for people in our prisons. We provide all
individuals in prison with at least three meals per day, one of which is hot, that
contain all daily nutritional requirements. All meals are prepared in accordance
with food safety standards.
Mealtimes are scheduled during prison unlock hours. Each prison determines
specific unlock hours based on the operational routines of the units. Remand
units generally run to a standard 08:00 to 17:00 unlock regime with an hour-long
lockup around midday to allow for staff lunch breaks. Consequently, the
following approximate mealtimes are within normal range; breakfast between
08:15 and 09:00, lunch between 11:00 and 12:00, dinner between 16:00 and
17:00. Food for supper can also be provided with the evening meal so people
have food between dinner and breakfast. If supper has not been provided with
dinner, people are provided with breakfast no more than 14 hours from the
previous evening meal. Where operational needs dictate, some units may
operate different mealtimes to those outlined above.
Each prison is required to follow Corrections’ policy on minimum entitlements
which addresses meal requirements. This policy includes four-week national
menu templates and can be found in the Prison Operations Manual at the
There are 18 prisons across New Zealand and many house people on remand.
Every prison will likely have different scheduled mealtimes across units. In order
to identify this type of specific information for each unit holding remand
prisoners, we would be required to manually review a large quantity of
In accordance with the OIA, we have considered whether to affix a charge or
extend the time limit for responding. However, given the scale of the request we
do not consider that this would be an appropriate use of our publicly funded
resources. Therefore, your request is declined under section 18(f) of the OIA, as
the information cannot be made available without substantial collation or
However, you may be interested to know that Corrections is currently working to
normalise mealtimes through the ‘Making Shifts Work’ project. The project is
being progressively rolled out across New Zealand’s prisons and is designed to
deliver flexible roster patterns that provide safer and better working conditions
for corrections officers, create more opportunities for increased rehabilitation,
and structured activity for prisoners.
Traditional shift patterns pose constraints on unlock hours, including mealtimes.
Making Shifts Work has included input from Corrections staff and union
representatives. It will deliver new 12, 10, and 8-hour shifts for all custodial staff,
replacing current fixed 8-hour shifts. Staff will work fewer shifts and gain extra
days off per year, which along with mealtimes will see an immediate
improvement in medication and visiting times.
Making Shifts Work was implemented at the first site, Manawatu Prison, in July
2020 and is expected to be implemented across all prisons over the next 12
I trust the information provided is of assistance. Should you have any concerns
with this response, I would encourage you to raise these with the Corrections.
Alternatively, you are advised of your right to raise any concerns with the Office
of the Ombudsman. Contact details are: Office of the Ombudsman, PO Box
10152, Wellington 6143.
Ngā mihi nui
Deputy Chief Executive
People & Capability