RANCHO CUCAMONGA - About 50 West Valley Detention Center inmates are refusing to eat the jail's food in apparent support of hunger strikes at some Northern California prisons.

The inmates are instead purchasing food to eat from the jail's commissary, said Jodi Miller, a San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman.

Medical staffers have been notified of the inmates' actions, Miller said.

"They are monitoring those inmates particularly if they have medical conditions," she said.

Participation has varied at different meal times, but has generally remained at about 50 inmates, Miller said. The inmates have declined to eat the government food since Monday.

The commissary carries products such as instant noodles, fruit-drink mixes, cookies, candy bars as well as other snack-type items, Miller said.

The inmates purchase the items by using money in accounts set up by families or friends, she said.

The group Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity said prisoners at Pelican Bay and Calipatria prisons planned to start refusing state-issued meals on Monday to protest conditions in maximum-security units.

Some Pelican Bay inmates protested their living conditions for three weeks this past summer by participating in a hunger strike. Their actions spread to about a dozen other state prisons.

West Valley Detention Center is at 9500 Etiwanda Ave.


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The Contra Costa Times contributed to this report.