Phyllis Theermann

Sustainable Wellesley would like to thank DPW Director Mike Pakstis for all he has done during the nearly 19 years working in Wellesley.

Heading a staff of 119 people from multiple divisions, including Engineering, Park and Tree, Highway, Water and Sewer, and the Recycling and Disposal Facility, Pakstis has over seen many projects including the North 40, and the new DPW office.–

These photos are from a recent event honoring him and all he has done for Wellesley — including the town recycling more than 115,000 tons. That is enough recycled material to fill Fenway Park 2.5 times!

We are most grateful for his partnership in Wellesley’s 3R (Reduce Reuse Recycle) Working Group which conducted a series of initiatives to rescue surplus food and to reduce the amount of organic waste going to landfills. One of the programs, the food rescue initiative, which takes edible, surplus and leftover food and passes it on to people in need, was recently awarded the 2018 Environmental Merit Award the New England Region of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The collaborative program — which donated an estimated 20,000 meals in its first year — was created to keep organic waste, including food waste, out of landfills.

Best wishes Mike, you have left big shoes to fill. Enjoy retirement!

Phyllis Theermann

The EPA New England awarded a 2018 Environmental Merit Award to Wellesley’s 3R Working Group and Food for Free for their efforts in food rescue: wholesome, edible surplus food generated at schools, colleges and universities was donated to people in need. This award was given as the effort feeds many, and keeps food waste out of landfills.

In September, 2017, schools and colleges in the Metro-west area committed to this Food Rescue Initiative. Together they donated about 20,000 meals annually to the Food for Free Family Meals Program.  Wellesley Public Schools, Babson College, Bentley University, Olin College of Engineering and Wellesley College, as well as their food service providers were part of this initiative.

Now that the program has reached a critical mass and is cost effective, other local institutions with leftover food are being recruited.

MassBay Community College is one of the recipients of this program, enabling students to have more reliable access to nutritious food. Food insecurity in New England ranges from 9 to 13.8 percent of the population, so this is a valuable program to replicate. The EPA New England is now working in Rhode Island on a similar collaboration.

This is an excellent example of collaboration and we congratulate the Wellesley Sustainable Energy Committee, Public Works Department, Natural Resources Commission, Public Schools, Facilities Management Department, Health Department, Wellesley Green Schools and of course local colleges and universities and their food service vendors who collect leftover food and donate it to the Cambridge nonprofit Food for Free to be repackaged into single-serve meals to distribute through its Family Meals program.

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