BENTON -- Scott County officials need to put together a request for proposals with exactly what they want in food services at the county jail.
Food service vendors met with commissioners during the regular meeting County Commission meeting Tuesday to pitch their companies to county officials.
The more specific county officials are about their needs, the more likely it will be that commissioners will get bids that allow them to compare apples with apples, vendors advised.
Vendors discussed everything from name brands to "new book kits" with basic hygiene supplies that can be marked up and billed to prisoners or added to booking costs.
"Right or wrong, it's a way to fund initiatives at the jail," said one vendor of profits.
Some jails bill indigent prisoners and allow them to run a negative balance which is paid off in the event they receive money. Prisoners who leave the facility have 72 hours to retrieve purchased items or they become property of the county.
County officials asked about packaging as inmates stuffing things down the toilets has been an ongoing problem. One vendor advised removing commissary privileges is an effective way to discourage mischief.
Another vendor advised they only offer single-serve items as larger packages pose a pest infestation risk during storage.
County officials also need to consider whether they want to have vending machines which can also be a source of revenue.
One vendor recommended a menu with cold breakfasts which, while slightly more expensive in food costs, require less labor than hot breakfasts. Another option is to have six cold breakfasts per week and one hot breakfast.
Commissioner Martin Priggel suggested bids have different breakfasts included as options.
In other business Tuesday:
* Linda Frankum, director of the House of Refuge, and Melissa West, direct service provider, updated commissioners on their operations and encouraged them to continue their support of the facility.
"You've always been very supportive of the House of Refuge," Frankum said.
Frankum said she agreed to serve as director on an interim basis and has made some changes including expanding the staff and adding Prosecuting Attorney Paul Boyd to the board of directors.
"We're making improvements," she said, "and with your help things will continue to improve."
The House of Refuge has a maximum capacity of 16 adults, according to Frankum. "There could be one or two people one day and the very next day we could be at maximum capacity," she said.
Clients usually stay 90 days or less although the board may approve extensions.
* A county tire roundup is scheduled. Residents may drop off passenger tires at the county highway department shed in Benton between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Dec. 3 and Jan. 7.