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DES MOINES --- Three inmates at the Black Hawk County jail in Waterloo have filed federal lawsuits claiming their civil rights are being violated by skimpy meals.

The lawsuits filed this month allege that small amounts of food and a 5:30 p.m. suppertime add up to a mid-evening hunger that constitutes "cruel and unusual punishment." The lawsuits were filed by Tony Grider, Jessie Davis and Charles Mack Jr. The lawsuits say the cuisine pales in comparison to what the inmates have experience in other jails. They seek $1,000 per day for pain and suffering sparked by their unsatisfied stomachs.

Chief jail administrator Capt. Reinhard Boeschen says the company in charge of jail food has promised the meals meet all nutritional requirements.

Sheriff Tony Thompson said he could not comment on the suit's specifics because he has not yet been served notice of it. But he said the jail food service contract is put out for bid periodically by the Black Hawk County Board of Supervisors and that prospective bidders have to meet minimal nutritional specifications.

"The contract is such that we expect the meals to be nutritionally correct; that we expect them to be dietarially sound and meet minimum requirements for sustenance," Thompson said.

"We're not here to keep them (prisoners) ‘satisfied,' " Thompson said. "If they're not satisified, then they won't be coming back to jail. Our job is to keep them safe, keep them fed. Some inmates have been here as long as two years awaiting trial and have not lost a pound."

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