USDA Community Composting Grants Benefit Food Matters Cities

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USDA awarded $ 2 million to 24 local governments for community composting and food waste reduction projects, including 4 projects at Regional Food Matters Initiative sites. These types of subsidies are critical to our nation’s ability to prevent food from ending up in landfills – where it produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas – and to promote healthy soils. Focusing on community composting rejuvenates local food systems by promoting community-based solutions to organic recycling, which can complement commercial composting and provide unique opportunities for community benefits.

Jeffrey Smith pushing a wheelbarrow of damaged collard greens towards the compost pile at the Bedstuy Campaign Against Hunger (BSCAH) urban farm in Far Rockaway, Brooklyn, New York.

Composting is a natural biological process of breaking down organic matter, including food scraps, into a soil amendment that can return nutrients to the soil. Community composting occurs on a small scale in neighborhood gardens, schools, city parks and other community spaces where it can lead to other benefits, including social cohesion, growing local economies, job creation, urban beautification and hyper-local food sheds.

Food Matters partners will use USDA grants to support the following projects:

  • The Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Food Waste Composting The program will support the long-term development of several small-scale composting operations on municipal properties throughout the city and serve as a model to replicate for other cities. A newly created Sustainability Specialist position will be responsible for data collection and analysis, education and outreach, quality control and reporting for all coordinated sites.
  • Pittsburgh Urban Agriculture Solutions for Organic Waste Management The project will identify a way to compost organic waste generated by internal city operations with the goal of moving to a city-wide residential organic waste alternative to curbside composting. It will also build soil that will strengthen existing networks of urban agriculture, community composting and food waste processing businesses.
  • The Cincinnati Community Composting Collaboration is a multi-tiered pilot program that will include several decentralized community composting and small to medium-scale (
  • The City of Madison is striving to meet its goal of 50% food waste reduction by 2030 through the Community initiative to reduce food waste. The initiative will take a multisectoral approach involving local farmers to increase community composting options in the city and involve local restaurants in reducing food waste.

The NRDC views these subsidy opportunities as a critical part of our ability to meet our national goal of reducing food waste by 50% by 2030. The top priority of the US Action Plan on Food Loss and Waste is to ‘invest in preventing food waste and preventing food waste. landfills and incinerators. These community grants for composting and food waste reduction will boost work already underway in Food Matters towns and other municipalities and tribal communities across the country; we hope that the success of these projects will inspire more federal funding in the future. Kudos to USDA for recognizing the importance of this work and to all grant recipients across the country!


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