The Food Service Section staff is composed of certified food service detention deputies and Food Service Specialists (Civilians). They supervise an inmate work force of 110 inmates. Some of the food used for inmate meals has been raised and harvested by inmate labor. The Food Service Section prepared and served 2,608,105 meals in 2011 at one of the lowest cost per meal rate in the state.
The Food Service Section has two kitchen facilities. One is located in Bartow at the Central County Jail, and the other is located at the South County Jail in Frostproof.
In 2011 the kitchen facility at the Central County Jail served just over 1 million regular meals and 29,544 Juvenile Detention meals (meal service started on October 1, 2011), and the South County facility served over 1.5 million. The Central County Jail facility also prepared 25,036 meals for the Hope Now. This is an average of 7,150 meals per day. Meals for Hope Now were prepared at the Central County Jail and delivered by cart to the housing facility. Some of the food used for inmate meals has been raised and harvested at the detention farm, which is now operated by the Hope Now Program.
All food is prepared, under the supervision of Food Service Detention Deputies and Food Service Specialists, by inmate labor consisting of two shifts, each with 25 inmates per shift at the Central County Jail facility and 35 inmates per shift at the South County Jail facility.
Both facilities maintain staff dining rooms serving one meal per shift to all Polk County Sheriff's Office personnel, medical staff, maintenance staff and visiting county/state employees.
The Food Service Section is allocated for 9 certified food service detention deputies and 14 Food Service Specialists (Civilians). This includes two sergeants and one administrator position for a total of 26 allocated positions. All members of the Food Service Section are Florida State Certified Professional Food Handlers.
Aside from the inmate and staff dining meals prepared, the Food Service Section also prepares food for special groups and occasions such as the Sheriff’s Leadership Council tours, Community Service activities, and departmental staff meetings.
The Detention Food Service Section also maintains a mobile kitchen for use during emergency situations. In 2005, the mobile kitchen responded to the Panhandle area following Hurricane Dennis and to Waveland, Mississippi in August to assist in the recovery efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. During the aftermath of Hurricane Charley in 2004, Polk County Sheriff's personnel set up a command center in central Polk County for two weeks and the Food Service mobile kitchen was deployed. One month later when Hurricane Ivan came ashore in the panhandle the mobile kitchen was deployed to Santa Rosa County for 8 days. The Detention Food Section has also provided and delivered food and beverages for Polk County Sheriff's Office personnel during emergency situations with Polk County.