Meals are perhaps the most important aspect of prison life. They keep inmates alive, both physically and emotionally, as mess halls and common areas provide a level of social interaction in an otherwise lonely situation. Albert “Prodigy” Johnson served three-and-a-half years in prison, and during that time his focus was on his health—an almost impossible feat behind bars, where many inmates often enter the prison system healthy but leave with diabetes and hypertension.
Commissary Kitchen provides a deeper perspective of what it’s like to consume meals in prison. While recipes are provided, Prodigy and cowriter Kathy Iandoli also tell various anecdotes about situations in prison involving food. Meal prep in prison is very limited, so while this work appeals to anyone who has served time or is curious about prison life, it also speaks to those who prepare food with limited access to various cooking luxuries (such as college students in dorms). While the work is informational, above all it humanizes the prison experience in a way that has never been done before.