Prison Architect Wiki

Canteens are central locations of a facility where large groups of prisoners will congregate to attain food and satisfy their hunger. It is arguably one of the most important rooms needed to sustain a functioning prison with moderately happy inmates.

All food provided for prisoners is prepared by your cooks, and/or prisoners if using prison labour. Canteens should be built near kitchens so that cooks carrying prepared food will not have to travel far, thus improving the overall efficiency. Ensure that there are enough tables and benches/chairs for your prison population

Regime & Process[]

During EAT regimes, all prisoners will surrender their duties/activities and head towards the canteen where food will have been prepared by your cooks, a few game hours prior to "eat time".

The serving table will temporarily house the cooked food as well as a plentiful stack of food trays. Each prisoner will obtain a full food tray when collecting their food from the serving table, and will then proceed to find a table to eat at. Consider placing a Tray Dispenser in the canteens to avoid running out or trays

Female prisoners will eat at a nursery instead of a canteen.

After a prisoner has finished eating, they will leave their dirty food tray on the table and, if the eat regime is over, will proceed out of the canteen. Cooks will take the dirty trays and clean them at a sink

It widely depends on the number of prisoners in your prison, but you should always allow plenty of time in your regime for prisoners to eat. It is also highly recommended that you allow two or more opportunities for prisoners to eat during a given day.

Logistics & Food Distribution[]

The food distribution overlay, found under logistics, displays which kitchens (if there are multiple) are supplying food to the canteen(s) in your facility. A small supply-and-demand tab can be shown above every canteen in this view, detailing how much food is required by your inmates and how much food is being prepared by your cooks. If the supply of food does not match up to the demand this may be due to an insufficient number of hired cooks.

In this view, the player can manually assign a different kitchen to provide food for a different canteen if they wish. Assigning multiple canteens/cell blocks to one kitchen/laundry/canteen: Hold SHIFT while left-clicking each destination.


When building a canteen, keep in mind that there will be many prisoners mingling in one area simultaneously. The likelihood of a mass violent outbreak or riot occurring is significantly higher.

Deploying Guards will help decreasing the likelihood of a violent outbreak. For higher security sector canteens, one should consider deploying armed guard as dangerous prisoner easily can take down guards.

The canteen is also a central area in which prisoners will trade contraband. For that reason man the doors/entrances to your canteen with metal detectors and patrolling guard dogs to prevent contraband from entering the highly populated area.

Having extremely dangerous prisoners such as Legendary prisoner walk freely in a populated canteen, will most guaranteed cause deaths of prisoners and staff. For that reason, consider putting them under permanent lockdown in a cell with a Secure door which will cause guards to deliver food from a canteen to the prisoner though the doors food flap.

Room Grading[]

If Cleared for Transfer DLC is enabled, the room will be graded on a scale from 1-10. A rooms grade can be viewed in the menu Logistics -> Room Quality. The canteens grade will increase if the following criterias are met:

  • [+1] Room size at least 20 squares
  • [+1] Fan
  • [+1] Drink Machine
  • [+1] Snack Machine
  • [+1] Water Cooler
  • [+1] 4x Plants
  • [+2] High Meal Quantity
  • [+2] High Meal Variety
  • [-1] No Windows
  • [-1] CCTV

Staff Canteen[]

If staff needs are enabled, your staff members will also demand to be fed on-site. Designating any canteen as 'staff only' will cause it to become a staff canteen, where your staff members can eat. Their food is not prepared by your cooks, nor of similar quality to the prisoners, but is of high quality and is imported into your facility via supply trucks. Staff members do, however, still require food trays.

Tips & Tricks[]

  • Leaving a fairly wide pathway in the middle of your canteen helps to relieve congestion and allows your cooks collect dirty trays faster since their movement speed is reduced if they have to walk through benches/tables.
  • Keeping your canteen in a central location of the map helps limit walking distances for all entities.
  • Consider putting serving tables on both sides of the canteen to help spread the prisoners. A serving table per 50 prisoners will work fine with medium meal quantity and high variety.
  • Consider positioning a yard outside the canteen and schedule yard time before each meal; this gives time for all prisoners to congregate outside just before eating, reducing the time taken to get everyone in the canteen.
  • Prisoners may also decide to eat during free-time, as long as there is food available.