Westchester County has collaborated with the Arc of Westchester, the county’s largest organization for the developmentally disabled, to create a Food Waste Composting Program. The program includes a series of environmental education seminars, arranged by Westchester County to include topics on waste management, food rescue and waste, composting, gardening, and green career opportunities. The Arc of Westchester program participants will be assisting in the operation of an in-vessel composting unit at the county’s Household Material Recovery Facility in Valhalla. Food waste scraps are being provided by the Westchester Medical Center and Westchester Community College. The resulting compost will be given to the Westchester County Department of Public Works for use on county grounds and community gardens maintained by the Food Bank for Westchester.
This program involves two grants, a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation grant for 50 percent reimbursement for the county’s purchase of an in-vessel composting unit and another grant secured by the Arc of Westchester from the Westchester Community Foundation. This project will successfully divert food waste from the garbage, while turning it into a useable end product to benefit Westchester County and will educate residents, businesses, schools and other institutions on a viable technology available to divert food waste scraps. Furthermore, the project will train developmentally disabled individuals in useful job skills in the environmental industry.
In all, eight collaborators are participating:
- Arc of Westchester
- Westchester County Department of Environmental Facilities
- Westchester Green Business Challenge
- Westchester County Department of Public Works
- Westchester Community College
- Food Bank for Westchester
- Westchester Medical Center
- Hilltop Hanover Farm
Environmental Education Seminars
Throughout the winter of 2015 a series of environmental education seminars were arranged to kick off the program. Program participants from the Arc of Westchester learned about various topics in the environmental field to prepare them for the hands-on portion of the program, which is slated to start in spring 2015.
A special thanks to our seminar speakers:
- Garbage and Recycling Basics: Marianne Petronella, Westchester County
- General Overview of Greenhouse Gases: Professor Michael Priano, Westchester Community College
- Composting Basics: Max Zanke with Lucille Munz, Hilltop Hanover Farm
- Compost in Organic Gardening: Doug DeCandia with Ayesha Khan, Food Bank for Westchester
- Green Career Opportunities: Scott Fernqvist, Westchester Green Business Challenge