An Anonymous Wealthy Donor Is Now Funding a Basic City Service in NYC

A New York City group operating community composting drop-offs has been temporarily saved from Mayor Eric Adams’ budget cuts thanks to an anonymous, wealthy donor.
Woman dropping off food scraps at local city run compost collection site  Queens, New York. (Photo by: Lindsey Nicholson/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

A New York City group operating community composting drop-offs has been temporarily saved from Mayor Eric Adams’ budget cuts thanks to an anonymous, wealthy donor, one of the nonprofits running the program announced on Wednesday. 

GrowNYC, one of eight organizations the city contracts to provide public food scrap drop-offs at farmers markets and other public events, wrote in an Instagram post that it had “received a temporary lifeline in the form of a one time gift from an anonymous donor helping to avert the elimination of the program due to city budget cuts.” 


The donation will fund GrowNYC’s compost program through at least next June, the group said, though other composting contractors may still have to shut down operations.

“Our seven coalition partners are still at risk and our collective futures are still at stake,” the group wrote. GrowNYC runs 52 food scrap drop-offs across the five boroughs. The city contracts with nonprofits and three community gardens to operate the drop-offs.

GrowNYC said all the contracted organizations together account for 8.3 million pounds of organic waste that is saved from going to landfills, helping to produce hundreds of thousands of pounds of compost that is donated or sold to community groups, including farmers. The group did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The group did not clarify in public statements whether the donor was an individual or an institution.

In a drastic series of mid-year budget cuts, Mayor Eric Adams ordered all city agencies to cut spending by 5 percent, resulting in a $3 million cut from the city’s contracts to community composting organizations like GrowNYC and BigReuse

The cuts will also delay rollout of the city’s universal curbside composting program, which began in Queens before expanding to Brooklyn. As a result of the cuts, curbside composting in Staten Island and The Bronx has been delayed until next October, Gothamist reported. It had previously been expected to start in March. The city also told Gothamist that curbside composting will reduce the need for community composting programs.

A group called Save Our Compost that is advocating for restoring funding to the compost programs wrote on Instagram that the remaining organizations that the city contracts would need a cumulative $1.75 million in funding to save their programs. The group said that unless funding is restored to the remaining groups, 60 staff members of these organizations will be laid off and food scrap drop-off and compost processing centers will be forced to close. 

Adams has claimed that his budget cuts are necessary due to an influx of migrants that has led the city to spend money leasing hotels and building out tent cities in far-flung parts of the city, but not everyone agrees with his math. In an Op-Ed, former chief of staff of the city’s Independent Budget Office Doug Turetsky said that, “the numbers don’t look as calamitous as the mayor’s actions portend.” 

The mayor predicted that projected city revenue won’t be enough to keep up with expenses:, anticipating a $7.1 billion budget gap. But Turetsky said the real gap is closer to $3 billion and is “well within the range prior mayoral administrations have handled” as a share of the overall budget.

While it’s unusual for a private donor to anonymously fund a public service, it’s not unprecedented. In 2017, the city’s public defender program for immigrants facing deportation was also anonymously bankrolled by a private donor when then Mayor De Blasio refused to use city funds to defend immigrants convicted of certain crimes.