Washington State Jail Offers Inmates Ramen Noodles To Get Vaccine

The "Soup for Shots" program has produced results.
Ramen Noodle Soup, beef flavor. (Photo by: Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

A jail in Washington state is offering inmates ramen noodles to get the coronavirus vaccine.

Staff at Benton County Jail, located in the city of Kennewick in southern Washington, offered packs of the instant noodles to inmates who sign up for their first COVID-19 shot, The Olympian reported.

The program, called “Soup for Shots,” has achieved results in the about three weeks since it was implemented on August 1.

On Sunday, the jail said it expected to distribute 900 packets of noodle soup to 90 inmates by Monday, according to Scott Souza, chief of corrections for the Benton County Corrections Department.

“We’re doing everything we can do to incentivize vaccination and we are getting outstanding response,” Souza told The Olympian.

Posters around the jail reportedly advertise the new vaccine incentive and note that the prize only applies to an inmate’s first shot.

“To encourage and support COVID vaccination efforts, the Benton County Department of Corrections will be providing each inmate that starts their vaccination series with 10 FREE RAMEN NOODLE SOUPS!!!” the posters read, along with a large photo of ramen noodles.

Jail staff reportedly chose ramen noodles as the incentive to get the shot because the packages are one of the jail’s most popular commissary items.

The jail currently has 360 inmates and serves all law enforcement agencies in Benton County.

Benton County Jail is not the only jail to try an incentive program to encourage inmates to get the jab.

The Alabama Department of Corrections offered to give $5 in canteen credit to inmates who get the vaccine as well as those who have already gotten their shots.

“A confined correctional environment in which social distancing is challenging and all communicable diseases, to include COVID-19, spread more easily is — put simply — starkly different than a community environment,” Kristi Simpson, a spokesperson with the Alabama Department of Corrections, told ABC News.

Similarly, the Sedgwick County Jail in Wichita, Kansas, offered inmates $10 in commissary items for getting the vaccine. The $10 is equal to about eight to 10 packs of ramen, four bags of chips, and jalapenos, Lt. Jared Schechter with the jail told KWCH-TV.

“The goal is to mitigate COVID-19 in the jail as much as possible. It’s a correctional environment,” Schechter told the outlet. “We’re running at capacity or more above capacity today on inmates, and so social distancing is very difficult to do in a correctional environment.”

A slew of companies, celebrities, and local governments have offered incentives for people to get the vaccine as well. The trend appears to have been started in March by Krispy Kreme, which started giving out free donuts to anyone who had received a coronavirus vaccine. Celebrity Chef José Andrés announced that he would give a $50 gift certificate for his Think Food Group restaurants to anyone who shows proof that they have been vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Washington, D.C., treated those who got the jab to free beer at at least one pop-up site. The city also teamed up with Uber to provide free round-trips for those who wished to come to the vaccination and beer event.

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