DPW Receives USDA Grant to Support Development of Food Waste Reduction Strategies

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The Baltimore City Department of Public Works (DPW) Office of Waste Diversion has received $264,840 in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to work with local partners on a pilot program to reduce and divert food waste from landfills and incineration.

DPW will partner with Johns Hopkins University, University of Maryland Baltimore, and Loyola University Maryland to support new food scrap drop-off locations across Baltimore City.

The USDA’s Compost and Food Waste Reduction (CFWR) program awards cooperative agreements to local governments to implement municipal compost and food waste reduction plans. They are part of USDA's broader efforts to support urban agriculture.  

Implementation activities aim to increase access to compost for agricultural producers, improve soil quality, and encourage innovative, scalable waste management plans that reduce and divert food waste from landfills.

Expanded Food-Scrap Drop-off Sites

Johns Hopkins University (JHU)

JHU has opened two new collection sites, one at the Homewood Campus and one at the Johns Hopkins Hospital farmers market on Jefferson Street. JHU will use Waste Neutral to expand existing campus collections and receive on-site materials from DPW to support community collection weekly at each pilot location. The new drop-off sites will accept food scraps from the surrounding community during the following operating hours:

The University of Maryland Baltimore

The University of Maryland Baltimore will pilot two new sites, one at the Campus Center and one at the Community Engagement Center. These sites will receive collection from Compost Crew, who will transport the material to Prince George’s County compost facility. These sites will also be open to the community during their drop-off hours:

  • Campus Center – Thursdays,11 a.m. - 2 p.m.
    • 621 W Lombard St.
  • Community Engagement Center - Wednesdays, 3 p.m. - 6 p.m.
    • 16 S Poppleton St.

Loyola University Maryland

Loyola University Maryland will pilot an off-season food scrap drop-off at the Govans Farmers Market location at 5104 York Road, which hosts a market and drop-off during the summer months. Loyola will use Waste Neutral to expand their existing campus collection program to the location in the off-season. This location is near the community fridge, which is part of a larger food recovery initiative and is available to residents anytime. DPW will provide grant funds for stipends for student personnel monitoring the collection bins.

These pilot programs are available to the public through the two-year USDA grant period ending in June 2025.

Meanwhile, the food scrap drop-off program at DPW’s Residential Drop-off Centers will continue without change. Details regarding the program and the new pilot locations are on the DPW website.

Education and Outreach

The grant will also support work with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance to create take-home composting educational materials and a curriculum to share composting instructions. These efforts support the successful DPW  GROW center compost workshops hosted in the Spring and Fall each year, where residents can learn about backyard composting and receive a free compost bin and food-scrap container to take home.

Food Recovery

The final effort of the grant will support food recovery in Baltimore by providing $10,000 each to 4MyCity and Bmore Community Food to purchase recycled cardboard boxes and compostable food bags to support food recovery and distribution in the city.

The CFWR grant program aims to continue efforts underway to educate residents on reducing wasted food and diverting organic material from the waste stream and back into the local environment.


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