Salve Regina saving cafeteria food scraps to benefit R.I. farms
Sodexo Dining Services has partnered with Rhode Island’s first full-service food scrap collection and commercial compost operation to save all food waste generated in the campus cafeteria for processing into high-quality compost for Rhode Island growers.
Twice a week, employees from the Compost Plant – sometimes founders Nat Harris and Leo Pollock themselves – will arrive on campus to empty the color-coordinated 48-gallon totes that are filled with food scraps by Salve Regina/Sodexo employees.
Once collected, the food scraps are delivered to Earth Care Farm in Charlestown, where they are processed into high-quality compost and delivered to the state’s farms and gardens. The Compost Plant also collects from restaurants, caterers, commercial food wholesalers and distributors, industrial food manufacturers and processors, supermarkets, resorts, conference centers, banquet halls, religious institutions, military installations, prisons, corporations, hospitals and casinos.
“To date, we’ve offset 78 million pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere,” Harris says. “Like waste vegetable oil, I see food waste as another waste energy stream that’s not being utilized in Rhode Island. We can use this food waste to create compost, keep it out of the landfill. This compost will displace the use of petroleum-based fertilizers.”
Salve Regina and Sodexo already collect used cooking oil on campus for donation to Newport Biodeisel for conversion into sustainable heating fuel. Sodexo also maintains a campus garden together with Salve Regina students, operates Ecolab’s Apex dishwashing system to save water and energy, designs menus to use as many local ingredients as possible and uses XPressnap dispensers to save 30 percent over traditional napkin dispensing mechanisms.
“We could never compost the volume of food waste on campus,” said Mark Rodrigues, Sodexo Campus Services general manager. “Partnering with the Compost Plant has given us the ability to turn our food scraps into compost for Rhode Island farms. It’s a definite win-win.”