Bloom plan – how to guide

Bloom

The Bloom plan (full diversion) is designed to help you divert all of your surplus food (both edible and inedible) to organizations that can put it to use.

Training Videos

If you have any questions after watching the videos and reading the FAQs, please ask your Department Manager.

Click through to view the videos.

Program overview

General guidelines for source separation

Source separation by department

Bakery icon

Bakery

Dairy icon

Dairy

Deli icon

Deli

Meat and seafood icon

Meat & Seafood

Produce icon

Produce

Grocery icon

Grocery

Daily pickup process

Donation Guideline Training Posters

These are the PDF copy of the laminated cards. Feel free to download and print if you would like to have extra copies.

The QR codes at the bottom corner will take you to this training video page for your convenience.

Department Donation Guidelines
General Store Best Practice Guidelines

Department Donation Guidelines (Simplified Chinese)
General Store Best Practice Guidelines (Simplified Chinese)

Department Donation Guidelines (Traditional Chinese)
General Store Best Practice Guidelines (Traditional Chinese)

FAQ

General

Where does the food go?

All unsold product is donated to a local charity hub who then sorts the food into what’s edible for people, what’s edible for animal consumption and the rest is composted. This program is recovering over 90% of what was previously wasted food and diverting it to feed people and animals.

Why is source separation important?

Keeping food products separated by department allows the weights to be more easily measured to determine the amount of waste being generated.

How and when should I mark totes with the red stickers?

Only food that is UNSAFE for human AND animal consumption should be marked with a red sticker on the tote. This communicates to the food bank that the products are UNSAFE and should be disposed. Please always place the stickers on the TOP of the tote in a highly visible location.

When should I line totes with bags?

Please line totes with plastic bags if the products are very wet or messy. For example, veggie trim from the Produce department, leaking milk jugs from the Dairy department, or leaking blood from the Meat/Seafood department.

What kind of plastic bag should I line the tote with?

Please use clear plastic bags. We recommend the following item: Ralston® Regular Garbage Bags, Translucent, 35X50 – 29650. You may also use any kind of clear bags you have on hand that fits the totes. Clear garbage bags or bulk bin liners also work well.

What should we do if we run out of totes?

The food bank will pick up the filled totes each day and leave behind an equal number of clean, empty totes. Let your store receiver know if you need more totes and they will ask the food bank driver to provide a few extras. If you run out of totes during the day then please package your donations in stackable cardboard boxes with lids, such as empty banana boxes from the produce department or bread boxes from the bakery department.

Can customer-returns be donated?

Because we cannot be certain what happens to food once it has left the store, customer returns should always be marked as inedible. Please use a tote marked with a red sticker to show that the products are inedible.

Bakery

Can bakery items that have fallen on the floor or been exposed to other unsanitary conditions be donated?

Yes! Place any items in a tote or box with a red sticker to let the Food Bank know that they are no longer safe for human consumption.

How should I store bakery items that can spoil?

Please store cakes and pastries containing dairy, or other spoilable substances, in a temperature controlled location until the charity pickup time.

When should bakery totes be marked with a red sticker?

Place any items in totes marked with a red sticker to show they are UNSAFE to eat if they are spoiled, contaminated, have been out of temperature control (and it’s required it to maintain food safety), or have been returned by a customer.

Dairy

Can dairy products that are past Best Before be donated?

Yes! The charity will check the Best Before dates when sorting the products and determine whether they can be safely distributed.

Can milk in glass bottles be donated?

Normally the glass milk bottles should be returned to the producer for deposit refunds. Check with your department manager about whether these should be donated or not.

When should dairy totes be marked with a red sticker?

Place any items in totes marked with a red sticker to show they are UNSAFE to eat if they are spoiled, contaminated, have been out of temperature control, or have been returned by a customer.

Produce / Floral

Do I need to repackage produce if we receive unsaleable product?

No, you can send the unsaleable produce to the food bank in the boxes it’s already packed in, provided they are stackable on a pallet. For example, boxes of bananas, or flats of strawberry clamshells.

How should salad dressings in glass jars be packaged?

Please place products in glass jars separately from unpackaged produce. If the glass breaks, it could injure the volunteer sorting the product. It can also contaminate the entire tote, meaning all the produce will need to be disposed.

Can live herbs and potted plants with soil be donated?

Yes, but please package the plants in cardboard boxes or plastic-lined totes to avoid cross-contamination from the soil. The food bank will distribute to their clients first and then will send to farm or compost as appropriate.

Can trimmings from the floral department be donated?

Yes, floral trim should go in a plastic-bag lined tote and will be sent to farm or composted as appropriate.

Meat / Seafood

What factors determine if meat or seafood products are edible or inedible?

If the answer to the following questions is YES then the item is UNSAFE to eat and should go into a tote marked with a red sticker:

  • Is the meat or seafood past the Best Before date?
  • Does the item look or smell spoiled?
  • Is the packaging compromised (e.g., holes in packaging)?
  • Was the item out of temperature control?
  • Is this a customer-returned item?

We have a lot of day-of Best Before meat that's inedible because it gets picked up by the Food Bank the next day. How can we recover more of it?

We have a lot of day-of Best Before meat that’s inedible because it gets picked up by the Food Bank the next day. How can we recover more of it?

If space permits in the meat freezer, we recommend the following process for recovering more day-of meat shrink:

  • Place the empty edible meat totes in the meat freezer at the beginning of each day
  • Shrink meat products that are fit for human consumption into the edible totes in the freezer throughout the day
  • The inedible meat totes continue to be kept in the meat cooler to avoid confusion
  • All meat totes are picked up daily as per existing process

How should raw meat and seafood items be packaged in totes?

Always place raw meat and seafood items in plastic-lined totes. Keep raw meat and seafood separated from prepared and vacuum-packed meats to avoid cross contamination. Don’t mix raw seafood with raw poultry, beef or pork to avoid cross contamination.

Deli

Can bulk salads be donated?

Yes, they can be donated to charity as long as they are packaged, labeled with the product name and the Best Before date, placed in totes, and kept under temperature control until pickup. If more convenient, salads can be mixed together in a plastic-lined tote marked with a red sticker and will be diverted to farm or compost as appropriate.

Can deli meat end cuts be donated?

Yes, they can be donated to charity as long as they are packaged, labeled with the product name and the Best Before date, placed in totes, and kept under temperature control until pickup. If more convenient, deli meat ends can be mixed together in a plastic-lined tote marked with a red sticker and will be diverted to compost.

When should deli totes be marked with a red sticker?

Place any items in totes marked with a red sticker to show they are UNSAFE to eat if they are spoiled, contaminated, have been out of temperature control, or have been returned by a customer.

Can soups be donated?

Yes, they can be donated to charity if frozen. Please freeze in sealable bags (Ziploc or similar) and label with the soup type and the Best Before date. Place frozen soup bags in totes and keep frozen until pickup. If more convenient, soups can be drained and the solids can be mixed together in a plastic-lined tote marked with a red sticker and will be diverted to compost.

Can hot buffet dishes such as chickens wings, fried chicken and potato wedges be donated?

Yes, they can be donated to charity as long as they are packaged, labeled with the product name and the Best Before date, cooled to below 4C in accordance with Food Safe guidelines, placed in totes, and kept under temperature control until pickup. If more convenient, they can be mixed together in a plastic-lined tote marked with a red sticker and will be diverted to compost.

Bulk

How should bulk items be packaged for donation?

Charities need to know the contents of bags of bulk items in order to distribute them to their recipients due to allergen risks. If packaging items individually isn’t practical, then the bulk items can be put in the totes directly (or in a plastic lined tote if messy) and they will be sent to farmers or compost as appropriate.

The bulk items have been infested with insects. Should I send these items to the charity?

Do not send any food that has been infested with insects. Talk to you department manager or store manager about how to handle disposal of infested product.

When should bulk totes be marked with a red sticker?

Place any items in totes marked with a red sticker to show they are UNSAFE to eat if they are spoiled, contaminated, or have been returned by a customer.

Grocery / Frozen

My grocery items are already boxed. Do I need to transfer them to totes?

Boxed grocery items do not need to be transferred to totes. They can be left in their current boxes as long as the boxes are sturdy and stackable.

Can non-food household items be donated?

Yes, household items such as toilet paper, cleaning supplies and seasonal decorations can be donated. Use a plastic-lined tote if the non-food items might spill and contaminate it so it’s no longer food safe (e.g. laundry detergent or bleach).

When should grocery/frozen totes be marked with a red sticker?

Grocery and frozen items are inedible if the packaging is ripped or damaged in a way that the food may have been contaminated. Frozen items that haven’t maintained temperature control are always inedible. Customer returns should always be marked as inedible. Please use a tote marked with a red sticker to show that the products are UNSAFE to eat.