February 03, 2014
Meghan Hubble

Nutrition, Dietetics Chair Awarded $35,000 Composting Grant

The money will fund "Start to Actively Recycle Today III," a program originated by Mildred Mattfeldt-Beman, Ph.D., to direct food waste from landfills.

The START III program aims to compost more than 21,000 pounds of food, paper and landscaping waste. Submitted photo

Mildred Mattfeldt-Beman, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, has been recently been rewarded a $35,000 from Jefferson Solid Waste Management District to fund "Start to Actively Recycle Today III."

START III builds on Mattfeldt-Beman's original program, "Start to Actively Recycle Today," which challenged SLU faculty, staff, students and community organizations to redirect inedible food from the waste stream.

START III increases the program's composting goal to 21,590 pounds of solid food, paper and landscaping waste, through the use of Earth Tubs, NatureMill composters, traditional composting and vermiculture.

Due to the recent expansion of the Food Innovation Center's mission, along with the multiple Farm-to-School initiatives it 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 and will result in 13,610 pounds of compost annually.

In addition to decreasing food waste, START III will turn its focus to dinnerware waste. Currently, Fresh Gatherings Café has compostable dinnerware in place to uphold its 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 aims to increase composting efforts and 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 more than 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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