The 400-plus inmates at Whanganui Prison will this year celebrate Christmas Day with a festive dinner worth $7.60, as well as engaging in extra sport or recreational activities.
The highlight of the day will be Christmas dinner, prepared by a group of around 20 prisoners who work in the prison kitchen as part of an industry training scheme to prepare them for life in the outside world.
The Department of Corrections said the "basic, nutritious meal" would cost a total of $7.63 per prisoner.
It includes "roast chicken and vegetables for lunch, and chicken with rice and salad for dinner, along with two fruit mince tarts", chief custodial officer Neil Beales said.
Vegetarians can have crumbed spinach and pumpkin patties for lunch, with falafel, rice and salad for dinner.
Typically, dinners were budgeted to an average of $6.53, Corrections said. The additional $1.10 on Christmas Day stems from the cost of the fruit mince tarts.
"Our Christmas lunch is the same at all 17 prisons we manage nationwide and is similar to what has been provided on Christmas Day for many years."
As well as preparing the shared meal themselves, prisoners have also been growing fresh produce to donate to the community.
Whanganui Prison director Reti Pearse said the men had harvested an array of seasonal produce including zucchini, marrow, pumpkin, lettuce and cabbage.
"These, along with non-perishable food items donated by prison staff, will be taken to the local City Mission for distribution to the community in the days leading up to Christmas, and through the festive season," Pearse said.
The community initiative was a theme in prisons across the country this Christmas, Beales said.
"Christmas gives people in prison the opportunity to give back, which we know provides a sense of purpose and pride and helps people to feel connected to their community. This can be an important step towards a person making positive change in their lives."