New cafeteria program promotes food sustainability

BCPS, Chartwells K12 new cafeteria program promotes food sustainability
Posted on 05/13/2021

Morganton, NC – Thursday, May 13, 2021

Burke County Public Schools and Chartwells K12 support food sustainability with a new program called the Piggy Bank that feeds local pigs food waste from school cafeterias. Marty Browning, a pig farmer in Nebo, picks up leftovers from the cafeteria line each Friday at schools in western Burke County. The food slated for Browning’s pigs cannot be donated to local nonprofits or shelters because the food is not sealed or packaged. 

Daniel Wall, director of BCPS Child Nutrition, said, “We really appreciate Marty taking the extra food from the cafeterias. Before, we just had to dump the food into landfills, so this is a way of making our school system more sustainable by giving the animals something to eat and also teaching the kids about sustainability.”

BCPS Interim Superintendent Dr. Mike Swan said, “This new partnership with Mr. Browning is a great way for our cafeterias to make a positive impact on the environment. We’re also glad we can help a local farmer keep his livestock fed. This is an amazing new avenue for the school system to take to become more environmentally friendly.”

In the future, BCPS cafeterias plan to expand the program to include student participation. There will be a separate disposal bin, the Piggy Bank, at the trash cans designated for food waste to go to Browning’s farm. 

Browning is one of the only farmers in western North Carolina the USDA has licensed in its garbage feeding program. To be licensed, Browning has to agree to allow the USDA to regulate his practices to ensure the pigs are eating appropriately. This includes cooking the food waste to a certain temperature and cooling it before the pigs can consume the product. An inspector visits his farm to test pigs’ blood to make sure they are healthy.

Browning said “I really want to thank Mr. Wall and the Burke County Child Nutrition Program for their consideration in my effort of feeding pigs and for donating garbage to the program. I appreciate the USDA for allowing me to be a part of the program for 30 plus years.”

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