Ramen and coffee offered to help increase COVID-19 vaccine rates among Denver inmates

Local News

DENVER (KDVR) — Ramen noodles and coffee are being used to slow the spread of COVID-19 at Denver’s jails.

The commissary items are being given out for free as long as inmates agree to COVID jabs. The incentive program offers 10 servings of ramen noodles or five servings of the noodles and a coffee.

Bail agent Carter Spensieri, with Bail City Bail Bonds, said the program might work.

“Somebody might say, dang, I haven’t had a good decent meal in a while,” Spensieri said. “That’s really the best you can get in county jail— and that’s kind of sad.”

Denver’s sheriff came up with the idea after comparing notes with his counterparts from across the country.

“In jails across America, vaccine incentive programs for individuals in custody are working and we decided to move forward with implementing one as well,” said Sheriff Elias Diggins. “We will evaluate the program monthly and hope that it will make a difference as we all continue to combat COVID.”

Noodles and coffee are commissary items that are in addition to the three meals a day provided to inmates at both Denver jails, Daria said.

“The [meal] food is awful,” Spensieri explained while explaining the attractiveness of ramen. “They call it chow for a reason.”

Most inmates are expected to pay for those commissary items just like customers at a convenience store.

“As of today, we are receiving a great response,” Serna said.

The jail said roughly 60 inmates have taken part in the new program. To date, the sheriff’s department, in partnership with Denver Health, has administered 1,720 doses to Denver inmates.

Jail staffers will track vaccination rates each day. The effectiveness of the program will be evaluated monthly. Current inmates who were vaccinated before Tuesday by the Denver Sheriff Department will also be rewarded with noodles or noodles and coffee.

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