ACFSA Names Cortez Operator of the Year

The Association of Correctional Food Service Affiliates (ACFSA) presented Rafael Cortez with the 2012 ACFSA Operator of the Year Award at its recent Annual International Conference

The Association of Correctional Food Service Affiliates (ACFSA) presented Rafael Cortez with the 2012 ACFSA Operator of the Year Award at its recent Annual International Conference in New Orleans. Cortez is complex food administrator with the Bureau of Prisons in Victorville, CA, and is responsible for 15,000 meals a day at his facility.

He initiated the National Menu Compliance at FCC Victorville to ensure consistency, adequate nutrition, and fiscal control for the inmate population. The first year after his arrival, Cortez reversed an $800,000 deficit and closed the year in the black. Every year since, he has continued this trend.

When Cortez first arrived in Victorville, he replaced hazardous chemicals with “eco-friendly” products. He now has an average of $1,000,000 in inventory to ensure contingency plans are in place for any unforeseen disasters. He has also consolidated the foodservice staff roster, saving an estimated $100,000 in overtime. For Fiscal Year 2011, he saved his bureau approximately $700,000 in food service funds.

Cortez oversees a department that employs more than 500 inmates for whom he provides guidance, expertise and skill set. He also implemented an Inmate Apprenticeship Program for those re-entering the community.

In addition to his regular duties, Cortez provided his expertise and operational suggestions to Federal Mexican officials for their food service operations when they were in the process of expanding their Federal prisons. Periodically he also provides logistics in procuring non-eaten food from restaurants and grocery stores to assemble food baskets for underprivileged homes in the area.

Other receiving awards at the conference were...

Barbara Wakeen, MA, RD, LD, CCHP, principal/owner of Correctional Nutrition Consultants, Ltd., who received the President's Award;

Teddie Mitchell, CCFP, Food Service Manager for Shawano (WI) County Jail, and 2008-2009 ACFSA President, who received the Founders Award;

Esther Morgan, Procurement Assistant I for Los Angeles County, received the Employee of the Year Award. Her job is to order food and non-food items for all jails and their Officers’ Dining Room: currently that involves seven kitchens that can accommodate as many as 20,000 inmates, all court lockups, 22 Sheriff’s Stations, 21 contract city jails and 3,000 meals from the Officer’s Dining Rooms. In all, she has to coordinate deliveries to the various locations and comply with security requirements.  She was successful in dealing with 34 vendors, over 80,000 meals a day, and $27,000,000 food budgets