Can’t finish caf meal? These pigs will

[slidepress gallery=’smellystory-111809′]

Video by Michael Ewen

SLIDESHOW: Zach Pagano also got close and person with Barthold's smelly residents. (Zach Pagano/TommieMedia)
SLIDESHOW: Zach Pagano also got close and personal with Barthold's smelly residents. (Zach Pagano/TommieMedia)

Editor’s Note: Throughout the week, TommieMedia will be addressing green issues on campus and giving insight into the question of “How sustainable is St. Thomas?” Make sure to check out the sustainability page for daily updates.

The St. Thomas cafeteria produces nearly 5,000 meals each day. With the high number of people being served, it is common to see nearly 200 gallons of wasted food at the end of the day.

“We’re trying to cut that back,” said Todd Empanger, director of food services. “It’s an education process. But it’s harder for students who see the food and they want it, put it on their plate, sit down to eat it and they can’t.”

In an effort to become more sustainable, the cafeteria puts the wasted food to good use.

“The food that is discarded, we take that and recycle it,” Empanger said. “We have these barrels in the dish room, and they collect the food. And there is a farmer who picks up the food on a daily basis. He picks up the waste and they bring it back and cook it up into a mash and they feed their livestock.”

ThumbnailThat farmer is Pete Barthold who has been in the pig industry for more than 20 years. Located just north of Andover, the St. Francis-based and family-run Barthold Recycling, Inc., feeds nearly 3,000 pigs with the leftover food from local hotels, restaurants and the St. Thomas cafeteria.

That leftover food is cooked to 200 degrees while in Barthold’s trucks. Once the food is heated, it is ready for the hogs to eat.

Not only is the food not wasted by sending it to Barthold’s farm but it’s also cheaper than throwing it in the garbage.

“You either pay the trash hauler, or you pay me about half the price,” Barthold said.

Zach Pagano can be reached at

7 Replies to “Can’t finish caf meal? These pigs will”

  1. The pigs in the 2nd to last scene are procreating! Please sensor!!! Jk, it is a good video and I am glad to see our wasted food goes to support farmers.

  2. So when we have Trayless Tuesdays or Thursdays or whatever, we’re really not saving the environment, we’re just saving St Thomas a little cash.

  3. I thought trayless tuesdays were to save water from washing dishes (in addition to wasting less food)

  4. In the North Campus Cafeteria, as this video shows, signs instruct students to leave food on trays and throw away only non-food items like napkins. The Binz on South Campus, however, wasn’t mentioned and has no such setup. There, students scrape all food scraps into the trash cans along with napkins and the every-popular styrofoam ice cream dishes. The Binz may serve fewer students than the Caf, but when I go to dump my tray on South, the four large trash cans are usually almost full, and one can only presume that these scraps don’t get recycled. I appreciate what Food Services is doing to focus on sustainability, but I wonder what sort of efforts are in progress on South Campus?

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