Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

Salvaging Food: Creating Compost in Santa Fe

'141Big Dig' photo (c) 2012, Ciarán Mooney - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

[This is the last post in a four-part series on salvaging food, reprinted with permission from the Bread New Mexico blog. Part 1 looked at restaurants and food waste; part 2 explored the barriers schools face in donating excess food; and part 3 looked at a chef-founded program that helps restaurants donate their excess food.]

By Carlos Navarro

How many of us who grow a garden every summer create our own compost with banana peels, egg shells, coffee grounds, dated celery, and badly-bruised apples? While those are common ingredients in homemade compost, almost all foods are fair game if you have the right tools and equipment.

The City of Santa Fe, in partnership with Reunity Resources, has a plan to create compost on a larger scale from food waste collected at restaurants, hotels, and schools. This is a common practice in other cities around the country, particularly in California, including Monterey and Laguna Hills.

Under the Santa Fe plan, Reunity Resources—a New Mexico based non-profit committed to building community partnerships and implementing zero-waste programs—will collect the food waste and bring it to Payne’s Organic Soil Yard, which will then process it into nutrient-rich compost. The compost will be available for purchase from Payne’s.

Reunity Resources will provide clients with bins, bags, labels, and 64-gallon wheeled carts for collection once, twice, or three times a week. "Our goal is to make food scraps/organics separation as simple as possible  for our restaurant clients, and to make a seamless transition from trash to treasure," said Reunity Resources.

If you're interested in learning more about innovative ways in which restaurants are composting, check out this New York Times article about the challenges composting restaurants face, and watch a video on a Chicago restaurant that has managed to go completely trash free.

Carlos Navarro has been a Bread member for over 20 years and has led Bread’s presence in New Mexico for the last decade. He maintains the Bread for the World New Mexico website and blog, and serves on the Bread for the World board of directors.


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