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County receives hundreds of thousands in grant money to redistribute food to community members in need: 'This project is a major win'

"The need for more food in our food banks continues to grow."

"The need for more food in our food banks continues to grow."

Photo Credit: iStock

Montana's Gallatin County received a huge financial boost that will help keep food waste from going to landfills in two different ways.

The Department of Agriculture provided $400,000 to the county to improve composting capabilities at the local Logan Landfill. Furthermore, the money will be used to increase "food rescue operations," keeping items that would otherwise be thrown out by restaurants and distributing them to people in need.

The leftover food will go to food banks and a pay-what-you-can restaurant, ensuring that perfectly good meals will make it to the mouths of residents rather than contribute to methane pollution in landfills.

"This project will allow us to rescue usable food to feed folks in need in our community, compost food and green waste, and create a beneficial product for local residents and farmers, all while diverting the waste from our landfill," Gallatin Solid Waste Management District director Jim Simon said in a statement. 

"This project is a major win for Gallatin County, and we are excited to work with our partners to get this project underway."

According to the Gallatin County government, 200,000 tons of waste were sent to the Logan Landfill in 2023. However, it's estimated that 35,000 to 40,000 tons of that was compostable waste.

While rotting food produces planet-warming gases when it decomposes no matter what, the type of gas it produces is important. If composted aerobicallylike in compost bins, where the waste can access oxygen — it will release mostly carbon dioxide, which can be absorbed by surrounding plants and trees, as the Moonshot organization explains. If it rots in plastic bags and is buried below the ground at landfill sites, this anaerobic decomposition will produce more methane because of a lack of oxygen.

Methane is a much more potent gas than carbon dioxide in terms of global heating potential in the short term — leading to rising temperatures that increase the risk of extreme weather — so trying to compost as much as possible can mitigate the impact food waste has on the atmosphere. 

The money in Montana will also help to rescue what the Human Resource Development Council — which operates local food banks and the pay-what-you-can restaurant, as well as other public services — hopes will be around 100,000 pounds of food, per the release

"The need for more food in our food banks continues to grow with the high cost of living," Gallatin Valley Food Bank operations manager Jon Horn said. "It is important now more than ever for us to collect the excess food in our community and distribute it through a meal or our self-choice grocery store."

According to Feeding America, 80 million tons of food is wasted every year in the United States. With living costs rising and food scarcity a concern as crop production is affected by global heating, making the best of what we have is so important for food security and the health and well-being of citizens.

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