University City District, CHOP join food recycling, composting effort

    The University City District and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia will join an Environmental Protection Agency effort to reduce, compost, and even donate excess food to area families.

    Institutions that have signed the EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge agree to give their edible surplus food to people who need it most.

    Leftover food not suitable to the dinner table will be sent to a community composting facility and garden called The Dirt Factory on 43rd and Market streets.

    The EPA partnership will help to increase existing composting capacity, according to Seth Budick of the University City District.

    “Our goal is basically to double the number of residents and businesses that are composting in the next year in University City,” he said at the Dirt Factory.

    Named in a community contest, the site opened last July to meet demand among local business owners and residents for a compost facility close to home.

    Since the city of Philadelphia does not offer curbside compost pickup, community facilities make alternative waste disposal less expensive for locals.

    Compost produced on the premises is given to local gardeners free of charge.

    As part of their partnership with the EPA, the University City District will track the percentage of organic materials that feed families or join the compost heap, rather than packing the landfill.

    The EPA’s second University City partner, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, will reduce its food waste by encouraging diners in its cafeteria to put their leftover food in carefully labeled slots for composting.

    Budick emphasized that the initiative is community-centric, down to the tight lids on all compost bins, designed to minimize the facility’s distinct odor.

    “I mean, I smell the burger stand down the street much more than I smell this,” he said.

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