For most people, the prospect of going to jail is a terrifying thought. On Oct. 31, a bunch of Oklahoma Southern Baptists volunteered to do just that.
While the secular world was celebrating Halloween, Steve Boone and his crew of about 20 disaster relief volunteers from Capital Association were busy setting up a temporary kitchen in a secure parking lot at the Oklahoma County Detention Center in downtown Oklahoma City to treat inmates to hot meals—something they hadn’t enjoyed for several days since a drain collapsed in the jail’s kitchen on Oct. 27.
Ready as usual to respond to any emergency, the feeding unit sprang into action quickly when contacted by the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office for help. It was an encore performance of sorts—BGCO disaster relief volunteers had done the same thing three years ago when the jail’s kitchen was shut down when it underwent renovations.
“I talked to Steve on Saturday and they were here the next day setting up and ready to go,” said Capt. Scott Sedbrook. “They are doing a great job; they’re a well-oiled machine.”
Boone, who attends Edmond, Oakdale, said Nov. 2 the work was “going extremely well. The County has been great to work with. They contract the food to a local distributor, and they have been great to work with, too. It’s all been good.”
The feeding crew prepares the hot meals and puts the food into Cambros—sanitary storage units—which are then taken into the jail’s dining room.
“It’s my understanding that they serve the meals up into clam shells and then send them up to the different floors of the jail,” Boone said.
The 13-story, 268,000-square-foot jail normally houses approximately 2,000 inmates, thus requiring some 4,000 hot meals each day for lunch and dinner.
Inmates undoubtedly welcomed the change in their menu fare.
“They had eaten bologna sandwiches for three days in-a-row before we got here,” Boone said.
Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel said the Baptist volunteer kitchen saved the County from having to rent a mobile kitchen, which would have cost around $23,000.
Boone said the work was to continue for about a week to 10 days, with a relief crew—probably from Central Association—scheduled to take over from his crew on Friday, Nov. 5.
“We’ll stay on the job as long as we are needed, of course,” said Sam Porter, disaster relief director for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.