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Don’t trash your porch pumpkins after Halloween, or smash them in a fit a rage, no matter how tempting. Local company Compost Cab has figured out a system to collect, process, and donate America’s favorite gourd so that they can be used to feed D.C.’s food insecure or benefit the environment instead of ending up in landfills to rot, sad and alone.
The program, dubbed Pumpkins For The People, rescued 8,000 pounds of pumpkin last year. Founder Jeremy Brosowsky expects to receive about ten tons (20,000 pounds) this year. They donate un-carved, uncut pumpkins to hunger-erasing community organizations such as Martha’s Table, Miriam’s Kitchen, and Foodprints. Washingtonians can also cut their jack-o’-lanterns into pieces and donate them for composting. Of the ten tons of pumpkins anticipated, about 2-3 tons will fall into the first category.
Pumpkins for the People looks for partners in the community to help with processing so that the pumpkins arrive at community organizations ready to be converted into meals. Some of those partners are food businesses. “We bring Soupergirl pumpkins and [Sara Polon] uses them to make soup,” Brosowsky explains. “She keeps enough to sell to cover her costs. The rest of the soup goes to Martha’s Table.”
Brosowsky continues, “The thing I’m most proud of is how we’ve managed to build a system with existing infrastructure that’s of no additional cost to our partners just by everyone playing their small part.”
Pumpkins For The People also raises awareness about food waste. Forty percent of food in the U.S. goes to waste, and the economic implications of food waste costs America more than $160 billion a year, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Donation locations are available in all eight wards of the city through the Department of Public Works’ food donation and recovery program. Pumpkins for the People will be collecting both types of rescued pumpkins during the two weekends following Halloween—Nov. 3-4 and Nov. 10-11. See the drop-off locations here or in the chart below.
“After Halloween is when you no longer want or need pumpkins and when they’re not all stinky,” says Fred Struse, an urban farmer who works for Compost Cab. “They actually last a pretty long time. It’s amazing how much you can do with them.”
Photo by Flickr User m-bot