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Pigging Out On Campus Scraps

Local pigs are now getting fat eating food scraps from the University Campus kitchens thanks to a new composting program that began in April in cooperation with Tyde Brook Farm in Holden. 

Part of the ongoing efforts to reduce the waste stream leaving the University Campus bound for a landfill, the food re-use composting program began April 12 and, to date, an average of 100 gallons of food waste a week is being sent to the pigs. 

“It sounds like a lot of waste, but when you are serving 7,500 meals a day, then 100 gallons of waste a week isn’t really that much,” said Alec Watkinson, sous chef at the University Campus hospital kitchen. “Now, instead of going into the dumpster, those 100 gallons of food waste are going to the pig farm.” 

The food waste involved is vegetable trimmings from the kitchen, leftovers from the salad bars, unsold prepared foods, such as half-filled pans of entrees and pre-packaged items that remain unsold past their expiration date. The program does not include food left on people’s trays—that is still considered trash. 

“I’m glad to be working with UMass Memorial -- this is a good program,” said George Antinarella, owner of Tyde Brook Farm. “Using the food waste to feed my animals is much better than putting it in the trash.” 

The food waste is kept refrigerated in 55-gallon drums. Twice a week, Antinarella makes stops at the hospital kitchen and the Lazare Research Building cafeteria and hauls the waste to help feed his 140 pigs. 

Alan Levine, director of food and nutrition services for the University Campus, pursued the composting program after he learned about Antinarella through colleagues at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. “We’ve always wanted to compost, but couldn’t find a willing partner,” Levine said. “It’s the right thing to do, and we hope to continue it for a long time.” 

The arrangement between the farmer and University Campus is strictly cooperative—there are no fees involved for either party. “They’re helping me, and I’m helping them,” said Antinarella, who also receives food waste from Worcester State College and hopes to add the Medical Center’s Memorial Campus to his twice-weekly rounds. 

Fully insured and liable for the safety of his animals, Antinarella said he had one stipulation when agreeing to take away the scraps from the campus. “I asked them to keep the trash and the plastic knives and forks out of the barrels, because my pigs don’t know how to use silverware.” 

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