food summit, compost

Anthony Whaley, left, talks to Claudia Wiese about composting during the Higher Education Food Summit at USU last week.

Composting service among presenters at Food Summit at USU

It has been nearly eight months since Anthony Whaley started a curbside-compost collection service in Cache Valley.

“We are excited about the feedback we are getting from the community as well as our subscribers,” Whaley said.

The idea for the service came after Whaley, a Utah State University graduate student, and his wife moved from a home with a backyard to an apartment and began composting indoors. When they realized some of their friends in similar situations were also interested in composting, Whaley decided to start the business Compost Cache Valley.

Whaley offers service to both residential and commercial customers who sign up for a subscription program. Food scraps are regularly collected from subscribers and processed at a warehouse in Providence. Compost products are then sold around the community and subscribers receive a discount.

Services like this are more common in cities on the east and west coast, Whaley said, since the landscape of Utah makes building landfills in the state less expensive than it is in other places. However, encouraging composting in the community does have positive impacts he said.

“The immediate impact is longer landfill times, as well as air quality,” Whaley said.

Whaley was part of many student groups and local organizations presenting on Friday during the Utah Higher Education Food Summit at USU. Started in 2016, the event’s purpose is to provide a place to discuss different efforts to fight campus and community food insecurity.

Rebecca Charlton, an assistant professor in food sciences and an honors professor at USU, attended the idea fair and showcased some of the research projects her students have done over the past few years. The projects included connections between food waste and food insecurity and studying how educational information can improve food donation results.

Charlton said all the research her students do is shared with the Hunger Solutions Institute on campus. The research regarding donations and food waste was also shared with the local food pantry. She said it is important to her for students to see the real-life implications of the research they do.

“I want them to see that research is not something isolated in ivory towers,” Charlton said. “We do this to help organizations make better decision.”

It was exciting to Charlton to see so many students at the event because she wants them doing research early on in their college careers.

“The more we talk about it as being a problem that exists for all of us, the more we will take it on as a community rather than letting someone else solve it all the time,” Charlton said.

Lauren Rasmussen is a dietetics student who attended the summit last week. For Rasmussen, the information on preventing food waste was the most interesting.

“There are so many people who are hungry and so much food that does go to waste,” Rasmussen said. “It is not like a super hard thing to fix.”

Rasmussen was interested in the services offered by Compost Cache Valley because she doesn’t have the money to buy her own composter. However, she said since she has her own garden, she doesn’t want to send her food scraps away.

“If I was someone who didn’t have a garden, like if I was still living on campus,” Rasmussen said, “it would be nice to have it taken somewhere where they can use it.”