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Changing Tarts and Rinds

Story posted May 12, 2010

Changing Tarts and Rinds

An ordinary day at Thorne Dining Hall finds over 300 pounds of food waste scraped off student plates.  Normally, food waste from the kitchens is collected by a Lisbon farmer and used as pig and cattle feed, which is a good thing.  A better thing would be to reduce the amount of wasted food, saving money that can be used for additions to the dining program.

How to convince students to take only what they'll eat?   During Earth Week, Dining Service decided to weigh each day's food waste and stack an equivalent amount of organic compost in the front of the dining hall the next morning.  Bright and early Tuesday morning 8-40 pound bags of Coast of Maine Organic Compost (made in Washington County of fully matured salmon, blueberry and mussel compost and sphagnum moss peat) appeared under the beautiful Bowdoin seal.  On Wednesday we added 7 more and on Thursday, 6 more. 

The pile made some students more aware of the results of their dining decisions.  "The dish room said the plates came back clean, which must have something to do with the huge sign showing how much food we threw away", said Thorne Student Manager, Shalmai Rivera.

At the end of the week, 840 pounds of Maine organic compost was sent to the Bowdoin organic garden where Tristan Williams, head gardener, was happy to have it to dress his warming fields.  Tristan has already planted early spring crops like tender lettuce and radishes which should be turning up in the dining halls in 21 to 30 days.