Prison Farms

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State prison officials are conducting a yearlong test to determine whether getting meals from an outside company can save money.

Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials say the test could affect the future of the prison farm system and its Buffalo Ranch in Burleson County.

The state agency is dealing with a shrinking budget and a growing prison population.

State-owned prison farms have historically provided much of the food for system's 150-thousand inmates. But food-industry giant Aramark is providing meals at the Hamilton Unit in Bryan as part of a year long test that's underway.

The daily cost of two dollars and 43 cents per prisoner using Aramark is 17 cents per inmate less than what the T-D-C-J currently spends to feed an offender.

Officials say if that 17-cent difference could be multiplied by the state's estimated 150-thousand convicts, systemwide savings would top nine (M) million dollars a year.