New program helps East Point families donate food waste to grow healthy vegetables

One metro Atlanta city is giving families a way to help grow healthier food in their community without getting their hands dirty themselves. The City of East Point is starting a two-year-long pilot program that will let residents compost their food waste and turn it into soil for local farmers.

The program is between the City of East Point, the Food Well Alliance, and CompostNow. Families can divert their food waste from landfills by instead dropping it off at four different areas throughout the city.

"This is an amazing partnership because of the potential it has to continue to strengthen our sustainability work. But more importantly to empower our residents and have our residents be a part of something so critical as the food that they eat." East Point Mayor Dena Holiday Ingraham said.

Tenisio Seanima helped create the program. He is the Urban Agriculture Manager for the city and also runs a local farm called Nature's Candy.

"We saw an opportunity to partner with them to create a centralized program so instead of people having to manage their compostable materials at home, we want them to be able to bring them to centralized locations where CompostNow can pick them up, bring them to their facility, make it into compost and then redeliver it back into the community," Seanima said.

Residents can register on the program's website. There they can learn about what exactly compost and how, and where to drop off their food waste. There will be a site located at the Atlanta Community Food Bank, the Oyun Botanical Gardens, Leafy Greens Market, and the ArtXchange.

The city will first offer the compost to BIPOC farmers.

"We're putting high emphasis on BIPOC farmers and growers just because, due to the history that we need to reconcile when it comes to agriculture," Seanima said, "But this will be a form of compost that will be available for all of the community."

Seanima says this will provide a great benefit to farmers in the community.

"It's extremely beneficial. Number one, the soil is the source. As a farmer our job is not necessarily to grow those vegetables, we take care of those vegetables. Nature grows them, and you need to have a source of nutrients for them to survive," he said.

The city received the money for the program through the USDA’s Composting and Food Waste Reduction cooperative agreements. The mayor says this program is a part of their ongoing work to better the local food ecosystem.

"We started our local food ecosystem journey a few years ago. And we were selected by the Food Well Alliance and the Atlanta Regional Commission to create the first city agriculture plan within the region and that work is a plan, and it's an ongoing plan, how we really build a system in our city that provides food to our residents. High-quality food grown locally." Ingraham said.

Seanima said this will be helpful for the farmers, the people, and the overall health of the community.

"When those nutrients go into the plants and then into our residents, we want them to literally feel the impact so the healthier the soil, the healthier the food, and the healthier our community," he said.

If you want to learn more about the program or how you can get involved, go to the program's website.