San Diego Food Bank Turns Food Waste Into Compost For Community Gardens
✌️ Kudos to the food bank!
Originally Posted Monday, June 13, 2016
Some community gardens and farms will soon be nourished by food waste from the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank. The nonprofit has a new high-tech composting machine, and the city has just given them the green light to go green in a big way.
The Food Bank receives more than 20 million pounds of food each year to provide to those in need, but some donations come in damaged or expired and can’t be distributed. The food and its packaging used to end up in the garbage, costing $25,000 in annual landfill fees.
Now, with a zero landfill food waste goal and a new composting machine, the garbage is being transformed into garden food.
“We really see this as a way for the Food Bank to complete the circle,” said Casey Castillo, vice president and CFO of the Food Bank.
A “turbo separator” acts like a human digestive system, taking in and chewing up boxes, cans and jars of food. The food waste is collected in one bin for composting. The discharged paper, plastic, glass and aluminum packaging are dumped into another for recycling.
“What we like about it is we’re going to be diverting about 600,000 pounds of product that we would have sent to the local landfill. Now we’ll be able to send it to local community gardens and farms,” Castillo said.
Wood shavings are added to the organic waste to help with decomposition. Then the material is cooked to kill any pathogens. The compost is ready for use in five to seven days.
“We’re excited,” Castillo said. “This is new technology, and we’re hoping to be a leader in this particular environment.”
The first batch of compost has been tested, approved by the city of San Diego, and it’s ready for distribution.
One recipient will be the Mount Hope Community Garden and its 40 garden beds of fruits and vegetables. Diane Moss started the garden five years ago to help provide needy people with fresh food and nutrition education.
“We’re very proud to be recipients of this compost,” Moss said. “We will use this compost to augment the soil and make that available to the people who are growing food here at the garden.”
The Food Bank’s composting system is the latest effort to achieve the nonprofit’s sustainability plan, which already includes a 1,400-panel solar array and LED lighting.