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The Fourth Quarter Chairmans Fitness Challenge was held June 1 through August 2. The goal of this quarters challenge was for each unit and department to walk 624 miles, the equivalent of the Texas coast line. Collectively, TDCJ staff walked a total of 160,954 miles during the six-week period. More than two-thirds of the participating departments and units achieved or exceeded the goal of 624 miles.
Congratulations to all participants. Your support, participation and hard work are appreciated.
The following 31 divisions, departments, units and offices achieved 100 percent completion rates.
|Agribusiness, Land and Mineral||Tamra Reese|
|Information Technology Division||Stacia Boudreaux|
|Internal Audit Division||Terri Goerlitz|
|Manufacturing & Logistics Division||Art Ayala|
|State Counsel for Offenders||Gabriell Kerrick|
|Texas Board of Criminal Justice||Tina Rodriguez|
|Correctional Institutions Division||WIN Coordinator|
|Dep. Dir. of Prison and Jail Operations||Amy Beightol|
|Ft. Stockton||Melanie Guest|
|Parole Division||WIN Coordinator|
|Central File Coordination||Vicki Carroll|
|Specialized Programs||Cynthia Adams|
|Dayton Parole Office||Donna Peyton|
|Houston II, IV, V Parole Office||Donna Peyton|
|San Antonio I Parole Office||Sylvia Mata|
The WIN Coordinator listed for the Interstate Compact Office in the July/August issue of Connections should have been David Moreno.
By Terrell McCombs, Board Member
Since the early 1800s, canned food has been a staple in our society. Often used to preserve fish, meat, vegetables or fruit, canning is an economical way to process and store food for extended time periods without the loss of nutrients or flavor.
As canning preserves massive amounts of food for later consumption, TDCJ constructed its present-day canning plant in the early 1980s to help supplement the food requirements of the offender population. The plant, located at the Terrell Unit in Rosharon, is operated by TDCJs Agribusiness, Land and Minerals Department in cooperation with the units management team. The plant encompasses 122,000 square feet, is operated by 36 staff members, including 12 correctional officers, and employs more than 400 offenders.
The canning plant works in conjunction with Agribusiness edible crops department to ensure maximum use of TDCJ cropland and the produce it delivers. The edible crop program produces both spring and fall vegetables that are shipped fresh to the units for immediate consumption or to the canning plant for processing. These vegetables are grown on 17 unit farms, primarily in south and east Texas, which cover nearly 6,000 acres of agency land. The majority of these acres are dedicated solely to production for the canning plant, growing green beans, carrots, sweet potatoes, leafy greens, and cabbage for sauerkraut. In addition to agency-grown produce, TDCJ may also purchase additional sweet potatoes, carrots and pinto beans from outside vendors for canning. The agency also contracts for another 320 acres of green beans during the summer months. This practice of having secondary sources of vegetables enables continued production when agency produce is not available during non-harvest time or due to weather-related issues.
The canning plants production process begins with product delivery. Upon arrival in crates, the produce is placed in refrigerated boxes to prevent spoilage; the produce is then loaded on conveyors where it is washed and cut, sliced, chopped or shredded, and inspected for defects. The approved product is then moved to a filling machine where it is placed in the cans. Filled cans proceed through a steam table to raise the products temperature, and then move to a closing machine where lids mechanically and hermetically seal the canned produce.
The sealed cans are conveyed to the retort or thermal processing area. The cans are placed in large baskets, which are hoisted and placed in retort pots. There are 40 pots available for thermal processing at one time, each able to hold three baskets of 50 cans each. The retort pots are sealed, and steam is applied to bring the pots to the required temperature for the necessary processing time. The standard temperature for processing produce is 245 degrees, with cooking times ranging from 22 to 115 minutes. Upon completion of the cooking process, the baskets are removed and immersed in a cooling canal that contains chlorine to kill any residual bacteria that might have entered microscopic openings of the heated can.
Following the retort process, the cooled, finished canned products are placed in corrugated boxes that are taped, labeled, stacked on pallets, and stored at the canning plant warehouse for a minimum of 30 days. Once ready for shipment, the cases are loaded onto TDCJ transportation services trailers and delivered to the agencys warehouses for distribution to the units.
For Fiscal Year 2010, the canning plant produced approximately 300,000 cases of finished product, with each case consisting of six one-gallon cans of food. To process this quantity, the canning plant operates 12 months a year, utilizing two six-hour shifts a day, followed by a sanitation shift. The sanitation shift cleans the equipment to meet Federal Drug Administration standards before the next days production begins.
In addition to being an economical way to supplement offender food requirements, the canning plant provides offenders with career job training and actual on-the-job experience. It is designated as an approved training facility for the Vocational Industrial Education Program in cooperation with the Windham School District.