School leftovers being recycled — for pig feed

(Pete Mangione, WPRI-TV)
(Pete Mangione, WPRI-TV)

NORTH SMITHFIELD, R.I. (WPRI) — These days, almost anything can be recycled, even food.

Students at several schools around Rhode Island are now keeping their table scraps out of the landfill and diverting them to local pigs.

Specifically, the pigs at My Blue Heaven Farm in Burrillville, owned by Ron Vaz and his wife Nikko.

At schools like Halliwell Memorial School in North Smithfield, kids are scraping their leftover veggies or burgers into special recycling bins.

food-scraps-feed-the-pigs-poster“Now, they’re looking at their banana peel or orange peels, and instead of throwing it in the trash, they are actually making food for the pigs,” said North Smithfield Recycling Coordinator Donna Kaehler.

On school days, Ron Vaz picks up the leftover food scraps from 28 schools around North Smithfield, Cumberland, Burrillville, and Woonsocket. On pickup days, he says it sometimes takes him five hours to get all the different schools.

And the pigs love the leftovers.

“It’s an all-around good feed,” said Ron. “It feeds your children at school, and the kids eat well in school.”

food-scraps-crusts-peels-bagAt Halliwell, fourth grader Andrew Butler is a monitor watching his fellow diners sort trash, recyclables and food scraps into three separate bins in the cafeteria. He’s into the job: “Because I get to sort out all of the trash and tell people where to put all of the trash… Like, order them, mostly!”

North Smithfield has been part of the food recycling program for three years, but the Vazes have been doing pickups in other communities for much longer than that.

Sorting is important to the process, as it keeps lunch leftovers out of the trash and landfills. With tipping fees going up, “I think this is a no-lose situation for everybody,” said Ron.

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