WHILE hundreds of Sunderland families were forced to rely on food banks for Christmas dinner, prisoners at HMP Durham dined on roast turkey, pigs in blankets, stuffing, potatoes and country vegetables.
Some of the country’s most dangerous criminals got a full festive feast or could opt for alternatives, including Halal chicken, mushroom pie or chops.
For dessert, they had a choice of Black Forest Gateaux or a banana.
The Christmas Day prison menu was revealed today following a Freedom of Information request by the Echo.
It comes after figures revealed more than 19,000 poverty-stricken families in the North East relied on food banks during 2013.
The Trussell Trust, which operated food banks in Sunderland and Durham, said 12,479 adults and 6,547 children living on the breadline turned to food banks between April and September last year.
A copy of HMP Durham’s Christmas Day menu shows prisoners got up on Christmas morning and enjoyed a bowl of Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut Cornflakes.
Following their full festive dinner, they then got to pick between a tea consisting of a tuna and peppers mayonnaise bap, a cheese and onion bap or a Halal chicken mayonnaise bap.
To round off the festivities, prisoners were given a Christmas pack which includes a muffin, crisps, Kit-Kat Chunky, satsuma and pork pie.
The menu got a mixed reaction when it was shown to Wearsiders.
Abdul Aziz, 20, a waiter from High Barnes, said: “These prisoners get the same stuff as me. Personally, I think that it’s too much.
“I think when a prisoner is in for bad crimes then they shouldn’t get that much, even on Christmas.”
Robert Mulvaney, 66, who is retired and from Ashbrooke, said: “I think it’s what’s to be expected.
“It’s clean and edible, that’s the main thing. I think it’s enough, it’s not over the top.”
Janice Paul, 56, a civil servant from High Barnes, said: “That’s very, very good for being in prison.
“I think it should be on the school curriculum to visit prison and see what it’s like.
“It’s one day a year and you’re spending it in a room with someone you don’t want to be with.”
A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said: “Prisons are required to meet the religious needs of all prisoners.
“Food provision often plays a major part in recognising religious festivals and the Christmas day menu reflects this.
“The cost of all meals for prisoners is included in food budgets which are allocated to prisons.”
The current budget allocation which covers all meals and beverages at HMP Durham currently stands at £1.96 per prisoner per day.
•Should prisoners get a festive dinner on Christmas Day? ? Have your say in our news poll to the right.
Got more to say? Use our comments box below