Starving for Covid Relief in Indiana’s Solitary Confinement Unit

Submitted by R Totale on December 27, 2020


Indiana officials know they are literally starving prisoners in the solitary confinement unit here at Wabash Valley Correctional (sic) Facility (WVCF), aka the SHU.

I knew something was amiss when I was transferred here on Sept 3, 2020, and during the intake process was weighed on a scale that underweighed me by 63lbs.

I pointed out to the nurse that I obviously didn't weigh 187lbs and had actually just been weighed at 250lbs several times before leaving the prior prison.

She tried to convince me the scale was accurate.

I immediately grieved the matter, pointing out that I had been deliberately underweighed because of the starvation portions served in the SHU. Their game was to have a low intake weight on record so if the prisoner were to later complain of hunger and weight loss, a subsequent weight check would show a GAIN in weight, even if he'd actually lost a substantial amount.

I was reweighed on Oct 8th and weighed 234lbs, having lost 16lbs in a month.

When the grievance came back on Nov 2nd, the Medical Administrator replied that she'd have me reweighed and compare it to my intake weight, as if I hadn't already been reweighed on Oct 8th. I appealed her response stating that I WAS already reweighed at 234lbs, showing a loss of 16lbs.

The appeal came back with the same response that I was to be reweighed and it would be compared to my intake weight. They never did the second reweighing and I don't believe the 234lbs was recorded on Oct 8th.


Often when we're on the phone, my partner hears and comments on me crunching on cough drops, which I and many prisoners here eat like food because we remain so hungry and they are the only ingestibles we are allowed to purchase from the commissary on disciplinary segregation.

As the courts have recognized, the constant dull pain of hunger due to inadequate food constitutes torture.

To make matters worse, on Dec 8th WVCF warden Frank Vanihel allowed the food service contractor Aramark to begin serving us sack meals in place of dinner trays. The sack meal contains two sandwiches (consisting of pbj and a thin slice of lunch meat) and four duplex cookies; a tiny meal of almost nothing but carbohydrates---no fruits or vegetables are served which we would receive if given the trays prescribed on the menus.

We're literally starving.

Actually, most of our meals consist of primarily carbohydrates. Today, for example, breakfast consisted of a tiny serving of generic corn flakes, a couple of spoonfuls of instant potatoes, two slices of bread, and butter. Lunch consisted of spaghetti with a meatball-sized portion of meat crumbled up in the noodles, two slices of bread, a tiny serving of peas, and a small piece of plain cake. Dinner, as said, was two sandwiches and cookies.

So the only food items we received for the entire day that weren't carbs were the tiny portions of crumbled up meat, peas, and a slice of lunch meat. We didn't even receive a piece of fruit the entire day.

These portions and lack of variety grossly violate the basic daily requirements of the FDA's food pyramid and clearly don't meet the 2500 daily calorie intake requirements for moderately active adults.


The prison has been on lockdown since mid-Nov because of a recent spike in local COVID-19 cases, including inside the prison.

A strong immune system that requires a healthy diet is the best natural defense against infection and the worst effects of the virus. Yet we're being served foods that are lacking in even basic nutrition and that will make our immune systems especially weak and vulnerable.

It's generally known that people with preexisting health conditions like diabetes are the most vulnerable to infection and death from COVID. This because spikes in blood sugar levels weaken the immune system.

So why would these prison officials alter our diet at just the moment of spikes in COVID infections, so that we receive almost no nutrients and primarily carbohydrates, which cause chronic diabetic-type blood sugar spikes in non-diabetic people?

On top of our needing to receive filling food portions as a general matter, we need attention drawn to the denial of healthy meals especially during this pandemic, and our right to purchase foods from the prison commissary in disciplinary segregation.

Dare to Struggle Dare to Win!

All Power to the People!