Compost Combats Food and Dining Waste


Mildred Mattfeldt-Beman, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics has been recognized for her work with nutrition and sustainable food systems with programs such as "Gardens to Tables," that brought together Saint Louis University faculty and students with chefs, farmers and local middle schools to create a garden. Not only did the garden grow vegetables but provided knowledge, experience and an appreciation for nutrition in young students. Dr. Mattfeldt-Beman also put in tremendous groundwork with Start to Actively Recycle Today, a program that primarily challenged SLU faculty, staff, students and community organizations to redirect inedible food from the waste stream.

We are glad to hear about Dr. Mattfeldt-Beman's most recent accomplishments. She has been rewarded $35,000 from Jefferson Solid Waste Management District to fund "Start to Actively Recycle Today III". START III builds on the START program by increasing the composting goal to 21,590 pounds of solid food waste, paper and landscaping waste through the use of Earth Tubs, NatureMill composters, traditional composting and vermiculture. Due to the recent expansion of their mission, along with the multiple Farm-to-School initiatives the Food Innovation Center houses there is not capacity in the current composting facilities to properly manage the additional hundreds of pounds of food waste produced. The Earth Tub composter is START III's solution to the problem. The Earth Tub composter will result in 13,610 pounds of compost annually.

 In addition to decreasing food waste START III will turn their focus to dinnerware waste. Currently, Fresh Gatherings Café has compostable dinnerware in place to uphold their commitment to sustainability. The grant will allow for the composting efforts at Fresh Gatherings Café to be implemented further at the Salus Center. To combat the issue of dinnerware waste, START III will investigate different mechanisms for breaking down compostable dinnerware to increase composting potential. Additionally, the grant will also focus on developing a compost and Earth Tub education program for the students and employees of SLU's Salus Center kitchen and Fresh Gatherings Café.

The proposed expansion to the current composting program will increase composting efforts and increase awareness. The total estimated impact this program will have on reducing waste is approximately 10.8 tons. Saint Louis University's Department of Nutrition and Dietetics has over 75 years of experience in teaching, research, and service in nutrition. The department has been involved in environmental matters, as evidenced by its commitment to sustainable food systems, organic gardening and compost education. 

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