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Eastern State Penitentiary Hosts Prison Food Weekend on June 3 and 4

Visitors sample nutraloaf in historic prison cellblocks

May 30, 2017

Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site brings back its popular Prison Food Weekend on Saturday and Sunday, June 3 and 4. On these days visitors can sample two states’ versions of nutraloaf, the “food product” issued as punishment in many American prisons.

Courts have generally upheld the rights of prisons to serve nutraloaf, but the practice remains controversial. Eastern State Penitentiary will serve the nutraloaf samples using official recipes from two U.S. states:

Delaware: Prisoners on an "alternative meal plan" in Delaware receive this punishment loaf, which combines pineapple chunks, cheese sauce, wheat bread, rice, and vegetables. Currently, the Delaware Department of Corrections is facing a lawsuit by a prisoner who claimed he was "constructively starved" after being placed on a nutraloaf diet for five straight weeks in 2009.

Florida (Vegan Option): This recipe mixes vegetables with dry grits and oatmeal. Prisoners on this "special management meal" receive a fortified beverage with each serving of nutraloaf to ensure proper nutrient intake.

Visitors to the historic site can taste these two versions, record their thoughts on a tasting card, and decide for themselves whether serving nutraloaf is a form of cruel and unusual punishment.

New for 2017, visitors can also sample food prepared by prisoners in the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections’ Culinary Arts Training Program. The program works to provide service training to prisoners in an effort to reduce recidivism. Chef Todd Lewis, instructor of the course, will be on site to discuss the program with visitors.

Also on view will be sample menus, archival photographs, and reports of the prison food throughout Eastern State Penitentiary’s 142-year operational history.

All Prison Food Weekend activities are included with standard admission. Regular daytime programs, including “The Voices of Eastern State” Audio Tour narrated by actor Steve Buscemi, guided Hands-On History tours, history exhibits, and artist installations, are also included in admission. Tickets are available online at or at the door subject to availability.


About Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site

Eastern State Penitentiary was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world, but stands today in ruin, a haunting world of crumbling cellblocks and empty guard towers. Known for its grand architecture and strict discipline, this was the world's first true "penitentiary," a prison designed to inspire penitence, or true regret, in the hearts of prisoners. Its vaulted, sky-lit cells once held many of America's most notorious criminals, including bank robber "Slick Willie" Sutton and Al Capone.

Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site is located at 22nd Street and Fairmount Avenue, just five blocks from the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The penitentiary is open seven days a week, year round. When purchasing online, admission is $14 for adults, $12 for seniors, and $10 for students and children ages 7 - 12. When purchasing at the door, admission is $16, $14, and $12, respectively. (Not recommended for children under the age of seven.) Admission includes “The Voices of Eastern State" Audio Tour, narrated by actor Steve Buscemi; Hands-On History interactive experiences; history exhibits; and a critically acclaimed series of artist installations.

For more information and schedules, the public should call (215) 236-3300 or visit


2017 American Aliance of Museums Excellence in Exhibitions Overall Winner