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Religious/Special Diets
Monday, August 04, 2008


ICE/ERO Performance-Based National Detention Standards 2011
4.1 Food Service - V. Expected Outcomes
G. Religious/Special Diets
1. General Policy

ICE/ERO requires all facilities to provide detainees requesting a religious diet a reasonable and equitable opportunity to observe their religious dietary practice, within the constraints of budget limitations and the security and orderly running of the facility, by offering a common fare menu. Information about the availability of religious and special diets shall be provided to detainees in a language or manner that they can understand. 

“Common fare” refers to a no-flesh protein option provided whenever an entrée containing flesh is offered as part of a meal. Likewise, a “Common Fare” meal offers vegetables, starches and other foods that are not seasoned with flesh. This diet is designed as the foundation from which modifications can be made to accommodate the religious diets of various faiths.

Although the facility administrator has authority to remove and reinstate the detainees' participating in the program, ordinarily this authority is delegated to the chaplain(s). To participate in the common fare program, a detainee shall initiate an “Authorization for Common Fare Participation” form (Appendix 4.1.A) for consideration by the chaplain (or FSA). On the form, the detainee shall provide a written statement articulating the religious motivation for participation in the common fare program. Oral interpretation or written assistance shall be provided to illiterate or limited-English proficient detainees as necessary in completing this form. If participation is approved, the chaplain or FSA shall forward a copy of the form for inclusion in the detainee’s detention file.

Detainees whose religious beliefs require adherence to particular dietary laws or generally accepted religious guidelines and practices shall be referred to the chaplain. The chaplain shall verify the religious diet requirement by reviewing files and consulting with religious representatives. The chaplain and FSA shall collectively verify the requirement and issue specific written instructions for the implementation of the diet as soon as practicable and within 10 business days of verification.

Once a religious diet has been approved, the FSA shall issue, in duplicate, a special-diet identification card.

This diet-identification card shall contain the following information: a. detainee number and A-number; b. type of religious diet prescribed; c. expiration date, within 90 days; and d. signature of the FSA.

The FSA shall contact the appropriate individual or department to obtain a phone of the detainee, and shall attach the photo to the identification card. The FSA shall ensure that the food service department receives one copy of the special-diet identification card. The second identification card shall be issued to the detainee who, at every meal, must present the card to the CS on duty. The second copy of the consultation sheet shall be filed in the detainee’s detention file.

Any time a detainee on a religious diet refuses a meal and/or accepts the regular mainline meal in place of the religious meal, the cook on duty shall notify the FSA in writing.

2. Standard Common Fare Menu (Religious Diet)

Common fare is intended to accommodate detainees whose religious dietary needs cannot be met on the mainline. The common fare menu is based on a 14-day cycle, with special menus for the ten federal holidays. The menus must be certified as exceeding minimum daily nutritional requirements and meeting RDAs. Beverages shall be selected from the regular menu.

3. Changes to the Standard Common Fare Menu

Modifications to the standard common fare menu may be made at the local level for various reasons. For example, seasonal variations affect the availability of fresh produce in different locations, making menu modifications inevitable. Modifications may also be made to meet the requirements of various faith groups (e.g., for the inclusion of kosher and/or halal flesh-food options).

With the facility administrator’s concurrence, the FSA may make temporary nutritionally equal substitutions for fresh seasonal produce that violates no religious dietary requirements. The chaplain or local religious representatives shall be consulted if technical questions arise. The chaplain shall escort other clergy to the common fare preparation area for frequent, random monitoring of compliance with religious dietary requirements.

4. Hot Entrée Availability

To the extent practicable, a hot flesh-food entrée shall be available to accommodate detainees’ religious dietary needs. Hot entrees shall be offered daily and shall be purchased, prepared and served in a manner that does not violate the religious requirements of any faith group.

5. Kosher Requirements

With the exception of fresh fruits and vegetables, the facility’s kosher-food frozen entrees shall be purchased precooked in a sealed container, heated and served hot. Other kosher-food purchases shall be fully prepared, ready-to-use and bearing the symbol of a recognized kosher-certification agency. Any item containing pork or a pork product is prohibited. Only bread and margarine labeled “pareve” or “parve” shall be purchased for the kosher tray.

6. Plates and Utensils 

Kosher trays shall be served with disposable plates and utensils, except when a supply of reusable plates and utensils has been set aside for kosher food service only. Separate cutting boards, knives, food scoops, food inserts and other such tools, appliances and utensils shall be used to prepare kosher-foods, and shall be identified accordingly. Meat and dairy food items and the service utensils used with each group shall be stored in areas separate from each other. A separate dishpan shall be provided for cleaning these items, if separate or three-compartment sink is not available.

7. Religious Requirements

If a facility has a no-pork menu, in order to alleviate any confusion for those who observe no-pork diets for religious reasons, the above information, within “Section G,” shall be included in the facility’s handbook and the facility orientation. If the facility has a chaplain, he/she shall also be made aware of the policy.

8. Nutritional Requirements

Common fare menus shall meet RDAs. A detainee who chooses the common fare menu shall select beverages only from the regular menu.

9. Instant Food and Beverages

The food service shall provide a hot-water urn for reconstituting instant beverages and foods for use by detainees.

10. Plates and Utensils

Common fare meals shall be served with disposable plates and utensils, except when a supply of reusable plates and utensils has been set aside for common fare service only. Separate cutting boards, knives, food, scoops, food inserts and other such tools, appliances and utensils shall be used to prepare common fare foods, and shall be identified accordingly. Meat and dairy food items and the preparation and service utensils used with each group shall be stored in areas separate from each other. A separate dishpan shall be provided for cleaning these items, if a separate or three-compartment sink is not available.

The chaplain shall escort other clergy to the common fare preparation area for frequent, random monitoring of compliance with religious dietary requirements.

11. Application and Removal

The facility administrator, in consultation with the chaplain, shall be the approving official for a detainee’s removal from the common fare program.

Food service staff shall refer to the daily roster to identify detainees in the common fare program. Staff shall not sure this information to disparage a detainee’s religion or religious views or to attempt to dissuade him/her from participating in the program.

a. The FSA shall monitor the food selections of all detainees participating in the common fare program to ensure the legitimacy of their participation.
b. Staff shall train and supervise all detainees with common fare assignments.
c. A detainee’s temporary adoption of a medically prescribed diet or placement in a Special Management Unit (SMU) shall not affect his/her access to common fare meals, which both the SMU and the facility hospital provide. However, if a prescribed medical diet conflicts with the common fare diet, the medical diet takes precedence. 
d. A detainee who has been approved for a common fare menu must notify the chaplain, in writing, if he/she wishes to withdraw from the religious diet. Oral interpretation or written assistance shall be provided to illiterate or limited-English proficient detainees as necessary in providing written notice of withdrawal from a religious diet.

The chaplain my recommend withdrawal from a religious diet if the detainee is documented as being in violation of the terms of the religious diet program to which the detainee has agreed in writing. If a detainee refuses five consecutive common fare meals, the chaplain may recommend in writing that the facility administrator remove the detainee from the program. Detainees participating in the common fare program may also consume items for sale through the facility’s commissary program without risk of being removed from the program, as long as such purchases are consistent with the common fare program. However, purchase of food items inconsistent with the common fare program may be grounds for removal from the program.

To preserve the integrity and orderly operation of the religious diet program and to prevent fraud, detainees who withdraw or are removed may not be immediately re-established back into the program.

The process or re-approving a religious diet for a detainee who voluntarily withdraws or who is removed ordinarily may take up to ten days. However, repeated withdrawals, voluntary or otherwise, may result in a waiting period of up to one month before the re-approval request is decided. The decision to remove and/or reinstate a detainee rests with the facility administrator, in consultation with the chaplain and/or local religious representatives, if necessary.

12. Annual Ceremonial Meals

The chaplain, in consultation with local religious leaders as necessary, shall develop the ceremonial meal schedule for the subsequent calendar year and shall provide this schedule to the facility administrator. The schedule shall include the date, religious group, estimated number of participants and special foods required. Ceremonial and commemorative meals shall be served in the food service facility, unless otherwise approved by the facility administrator.

The food service department shall be the only source of procurement for food items. To maintain equity in menu design, all meals shall be limited to food items on the facility’s master-cycle menu. To facilitate food preparation, consultations between the FSA and local religious representative(s) concerning appropriate menus shall occur six to eight weeks in advance of the scheduled observance. The religious provider may, through the food service department, procure the ritual observance food items (in minimal quantities). Such items shall not generally constitute the main entrée for the ceremonial meal.