Warden Ron Broomfield (left) was among more than half a dozen staff and administrators who arrived at 4:00 a.m. on a Saturday to facilitate the distribution of hundreds of pizzas, muffins, chicken dinners, and cheesesteak sandwiches. Working alongside 14 incarcerated representatives from before the sun rose until after it set, the food sale team served a line of customers that wrapped around two-thirds of the yard. (Photo courtesy of San Quentin News)

This article was first published by San Quentin News, a newspaper that reports on rehabilitative efforts to increase public safety and achieve social justice from inside San Quentin State Prison. Visit SQN’s website or follow them on Twitter. The article has been lightly edited to add clarity and conform with PJP style rules.

Last fall, San Quentin residents were treated to a special event — a food sale where they could buy delicious food not normally on their menus.

Hundreds of smiling, anxious men lined up for lengthy waits to collect their orders from top administrators and officers in what some say was the largest food sale in San Quentin history.

Warden Ronald Broomfield worked together with five senior administrative personnel to run the event, which started with food delivery trucks around 4 a.m. on Nov. 20.

“I expect my staff to do this for the population. How can I not?” Broomfield said. “You lead from the front. It is good for the management team.”

“Prisoners spent $63,000 with 10% of the profits going to a charity,” said Warden Broomfield.

Project Avary, an agency serving children of the incarcerated, is expected to receive part of the sale proceeds. 

Saturday morning fog delayed the food pickup, causing the event to end late that night.

“Management has tried for months to get food sales going,” said Chief Deputy Warden Oak Smith. “Today we had a few hiccups, but we are planning to have food sales every three months.”  

Once the fog lifted around 9 a.m., prisoners began lining up on San Quentin’s lower yard to pick up their orders of pizza, chicken, muffins and Philly cheesesteak sandwiches.

Photo courtesy of San Quentin News

A smiling Tyler Lancaster said, “I was the fourth person in line. I thought it was pretty cool. I only waited about 40 minutes for my food.” 

Lancaster ordered everything that was available. 

“We had a group pizza party where we shared the food with a couple of neighbors,” said Lancaster, “Together we enjoyed the Philly cheesesteaks, chicken meals, muffins and assorted pizzas.” 

He added that for him it was a special day because he had the opportunity to share with others the meals provided by his family. He was impressed with the appreciation expressed by his pals who received the food as a gift. 

“I am very thankful for my family for making this possible, with the SQ staff for their hard work, and also with Costco employees for preparing the delicious food,” Lancaster said.

“The food received was a stress reliever and a good reward for good behavior with no fights, despite all the postponements,” said Julio Martinez. “I have no complaints. The food was tasty, acceptable to most inmates. I would give the food a 5-star SQ rating.”

Journalism Guild Writer Raymond Torres contributed to this story.

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

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Richard Fernandez

Richard Fernandez is a staff writer at San Quentin News, a publication of San Quentin State Prison.

Carlos Drouaillet

Carlos Drouaillet is a staff writer at San Quentin News, a publication of San Quentin State Prison.