METROPOLIS, IL (KFVS) - Times have been tough for the Massac County Sheriff's Department. Two rounds of layoffs have thinned the staff, but the needs of the jail remain.
That's why the department is trying out a method many families use to save some cash while still putting food on the table.
Three times a day, the 45 inmates in the jail need to eat. That's 135 meals a day, more than 4-thousand a month. That adds up to a pretty hefty grocery bill.
"It's a lot of money," said Massac County Sheriff Ted Holder.
The sheriff says it costs about $100,000 a year to feed the occupants of the jail. That's why to save a few bucks, or even a few thousand inmates are ripping (not clipping) coupons.
"The jail administrator brought it to my attention a few weeks ago," Sheriff Holder said. "He was looking inside these boxes and there's a coupon in every one of them. So the trustees started tearing them out as we serve them. Over the last two to three weeks we've saved $600-$700."
Metropolis Save-A-Lot manager Freddie Grace says the jail calls in advance to order hundreds of frozen dinners.
"We have to take it out on a pallet," said Grave. "It won't fit in a cart."
Most of the boxed frozen dinners cost just a dollar, so with coupons for 60 cents off here, 75 cents off there, the jail sees some major savings.
"It's a win-win," said Grace. "We gather the coupons up and mail them in and get our money back."
In the end, these frozen dinners not only fill hungry bellies, they also fill the till of a local business, and will hopefully add up to enough to allow the sheriff re-fill cut positions.
"We're geared toward bringing people back that we've laid off," Holder said. "If we can save money like this and show the commissioners we're trying, and shift some money around and save another job, we're gonna do it."