Retail Food Recovery Program
For Charitable organizations

Retail Food Recovery Program icon

Join FoodMesh’s Retail Food Recovery Program to get a regular and reliable supply of fresh food donations, directly from your local grocery store.

Find a store with a donation program near you

Resources

Store finder (interactive map)

Resources (password required)

Donations typically include

Bakery

Bakery icon

Dairy

Dairy icon

Meat and fish

Meat and fish icon

Deli

Deli icon

Produce

Produce icon

Grocery

Grocery icon

Our perishable offering has increased 10 times… clients are happy, we are happy.

Hajira Hussein, Executive Director, Richmond Food Bank, since joining the Retail Food Recovery Program

Webinar series

Attend an upcoming webinar to learn more about how you can get a regular supply of fresh food donations from your local store.
Learn more

Join the Retail Food Recovery Program

How it works

  • We help retailers divert their surplus food to organizations like yours
  • The retailer chooses how many days a week food donation will be available for pickup
  • Either one charitable organization or multiple can pick up donations from a retailer
    • If the retailer has a pre-existing relationship with a charitable organization, that organization will be the first to be invited to join the program so they can continue to receive the retailer’s donations
  • The charitable organization weighs and records the volume of the donations in our easy-to-use Diversion Tracker App
  • The charitable organization sorts the food and shares it with other charitable organizations (and sometimes farmers too)

What you need to participate

  • A vehicle (sport utility or bigger)
  • Cold storage capacity at your facility
  • Staff or volunteers to pick up donations
  • The ability to commit to a regular pick up schedule for a one-year minimum (although you can decide how many days a week you can commit to)

Benefits of joining the program

  • Get a regular and reliable supply of fresh food for your clients
  • Save money on purchasing food for your programing
  • Rest assured that your food donations are safe to eat
  • See metrics on the donations you’re receiving
  • Receive a financial stipend (if you can commit to picking up donations for 5 or more days per week)

FoodMesh has made food recovery so easy, the App is the bomb, it’s so easy to use, and it’s helpful for me to see at the end of the month all that we have shared with the community, whether I want the big picture or the little details.

Thank you FoodMesh and thank you to the donors like Buy-Low Foods that participate in this program. It is life-changing for so many people.

– Jo Tanner, Oliver Missions Society

Watch how the program works

The amazing team at FoodMesh partners CityReach Food for Families with retailers so we can add quantity, quality and diversity to our food program. We just couldn’t make those connections to large retailers like Save-On-Foods and Fresh St. Market on our own. 30% of our rescued food and almost all our rescued protein is through the FoodMesh program. FoodMesh not only keeps our planet green, they are providing our guests with nutritious food as we partner to reduce food insecurity.

CityReach Care Society, Vancouver

Choose your role

How often you collect donations will depend on your role in the program and the plan the store is on.  Please assess which role is the best for your organization.

Lead (for 5+ donation pickups per week)

Seed

Stores on the Seed plan

Donation programs at stores on the Seed plan vary, as they are managed in-house, independent from FoodMesh.

You would work directly with the store’s Program Champion to define when and how often you would pick up donations.

Sprout

Stores on the Sprout plan

What you need to participate
  • A minimum of two staff or volunteers to drive your vehicle and pick up donations from the store
  • An SUV or larger that can fit 30+ boxes inside
  • Space at your facility to store up to 30 boxes and sort the food inside
  • A walk-in cooler and a walk-in freezer (or alternatively 2 upright fridges and 2 chest freezers)
  • If using totes, the space and facilities to clean them
  • Scales to weigh the food, if you want to weigh it at your facility (alternatively you could use the FoodMesh-provided scales that are kept at the store)
What you need to do
  • Consistently pick up store’s edible food donations at least 5 days per week (including statutory holidays)
  • Weigh all the donations you pick up and record the data in our easy-to-use Diversion Tracker app within 24 hours of receipt
  • Share the donations with other local organizations in need
  • Find a replacement charitable organizationto pick up donations in the event you’re not available
Bloom

Stores on the Bloom plan

What you need to participate
  • A minimum of two staff or volunteers to drive your vehicle and pick up donations from the store (ideally three)
  • A minivan or larger that can fit 35+ boxes inside (a 1-tonne or larger truck is preferable)
  • Space at your facility to store up to 50 boxes and sort the food inside
  • A walk-in cooler and a walk-in freezer (or alternatively 2-3 upright fridges and 2-3 chest freezers)
  • Space to store inedible food for farmers to collect
  • Regular compost pick up service
  • If using totes, the space and facilities to clean them
  • Scales to weigh the food, if you want to weigh it at your facility (alternatively you could use the FoodMesh-provided scales that are kept at the store)
What you need to do
  • Consistently pick up store’s edible food donations, farm feed and a small amount of compost from all store departments at least 5 days per week (including statutory holidays)
  • Weigh all the donations you pick up and record the data in our easy-to-use Diversion Tracker app within 24 hours of receipt
  • Share the edible food donations with other local organizations in need
  • Share the inedible food with farmers for animal feed and/or compost
  • Find a replacement charitable organization to pick up donations in the event you’re not available

Partner (for 2-4 donation pickups per week)

Seed

Stores on the Seed plan

Donation programs at stores on the Seed plan vary, as they are managed in-house, independent from FoodMesh.

You would work directly with the store’s Program Champion to define when and how often you would pick up donations.

Sprout

Stores on the Sprout plan

What you need to participate
  • Regular and reliable access to a vehicle large enough to transport up to 30 boxes
  • A driver to pick up the donations
  • A physical location is not always necessary. Speak with your FoodMesh contact to learn more
What you need to do
  • The same as a Lead charitable organization, except you only need to be able to commit to picking up donations 2-4 days per week
Bloom

Stores on the Bloom plan

What you need to participate
  • Regular and reliable access to a vehicle large enough to transport up to 30 boxes
  • A driver to pick up the donations
  • A physical location is not always necessary. Speak with your FoodMesh contact to learn more
What you need to do
  • The same as a Lead charitable organization, except you only need to be able to commit to picking up donations 2-4 days per week

If you are unable to commit to making regular pickups from a store but are looking for a regular supply of fresh food donations, let us know. We may be able to connect you to a Lead or Partner charitable organization to receive some of their supply. Contact us.

We are a grass-roots not-for-profit that works with FoodMesh to redistribute food to my clients. Our clients are so grateful to receive the high-quality foods that we distribute to them, and we witness their decrease in food insecurity. Just removing this anxiety from their life is transformative, and has allowed many of them to make positive changes in their life. The app is simple to use, and the monthly reports received from FoodMesh are so helpful in further marketing our NFP. Thank you FoodMesh for your ingenuity and forward-thinking on this common problem.

Jolene Friesen, Swallowtail Trauma Integration Society

Check you’re eligible to access food donations

To access food donations via FoodMesh’s programs, you must use them to have a social impact, not to make a profit, and you must be either:

A registered charity

A non-profit organization

A social impact business

Another type of organization using the donations for a social impact cause

FAQs

What is FoodMesh's role in the program?

FoodMesh is employed by the participating retailer to:

  • Be their single point of contact across their stores, their local charity and farmer partners
  • Set up the program and the donation recipient network across their stores
  • Order/create all the necessary materials to prepare the stores for the program
  • Train store staff on best practices for sorting and donating food
  • Train donation recipients on the Diversion Tracker App
  • Lead the initial orientation session with the store and donation recipients
  • Complete in-person visits to the store for the program launch and orientation by our dedicated program trainer
  • Provide ongoing operational support in areas such as:
    • Technical support for the Diversion Tracker App
    • Farmer onboarding, scheduling and management (where needed)
    • Fresher training for store staff (where needed)
    • Support with charity’s diversion network (where needed)
    • Monthly reports to charities including all donation data
    • Monthly reports to stores including their social impact metrics
  • Guarantee that all their donations are collected and the data for them inputted into the Diversion Tracker App

How do I find a store with a food donation program?

Use this interactive map to browse stores with donation programs near you. We are adding new stores all the time, so if you don’t see a store in your area, be sure to join the network, and we’ll notify you when a new one is added.

What happens after I register my interest in a store?

A member of the FoodMesh team will contact you to learn more about your operational capacity.

Am I able to pick up donations from more than one store?

Absolutely! You can register your interest in the specific stores you are interested in via this interactive map.

How often am I expected to pick up food donations from a store?

It depends on your capacity and availability. Stores require their food donations to be picked up daily and so if you are able and willing to fulfill those picks-ups, then you can pick up food donations every day of the week. If you are not able to pick up food donations every day, you can be partnered with another charitable organization to pick up food donations on the days you’re not available.

What is the difference between a lead charitable organization and a partner charitable organization??

Lead charitable organizations are responsible for picking up food donations from a store for five or more days per week.

Partner charitable organizations are responsible for picking up food donations from a store for the remaining days of the week (often one or two days per week).

What is the difference between the Bloom, Sprout and Seed plans?

A store on the Bloom plan has committed to donating all of their surplus food (both edible and inedible). A charitable organization is responsible for picking up all of the donations, weighing and tracking them and sharing them with a network of charities, farmers and composters.

A store on the Sprout plan has committed to donating all of their surplus edible food. A charitable organization is responsible for picking up the edible food donations, weighing and tracking them and sharing them amongst a network of other charities.

A store on the Seed plan manages its own donation program and network of donation recipients. They use the Diversion Tracker app to measure the volume of their surplus food.

How much donated food can I expect to receive from a store?

It depends on the size of the store and which plan (Sprout or Bloom) the store is on. If you have a specific store in mind, please enquire with your FoodMesh contact for an estimate of the expected volume.

Do I have to pick up all the food donations from a store?

If you are picking up donations from a store on the Sprout plan, then you will be expected to pick up all of the store’s surplus food that the store staff has deemed as edible.

If you are picking up donations from a store on the Bloom plan, you will be expected to pick up all the store’s edible and inedible food.

What am I expected to do with food that is inedible?

If you are picking up from a store that is on the Bloom plan, then we will help recruit a network of farmers to collect the food that is inedible, so it can be used for animal feed.

What do we do with any remaining food that can’t be used for meals or animal feed?

Any food that is not suitable for human or animal consumption should be composted. If you don’t have a composting service in place already, we can help you to find a local option.

What do I do if I have more donations than I need?

We ask that all organizations who pick up donations from a store share their excess with other charities in their area. If you need help connecting to other organizations, please let us know.

Do I need to have my own vehicle to collect donations?

You will need reliable access to a vehicle large enough to transport all of the donations received. For a single store on the Sprout plan, we recommend a cube van or minivan at minimum, or a 1-tonne truck if you are picking up from more than one store. For a single store on the Bloom plan, a cube van or minivan may suffice, but we recommend a 1-tonne truck.

How do I track the food donations I receive?

When you collect the food donations from the store, you are required to weigh the food and input the weight, the number of totes and a photograph via our very easy-to-use Diversion Tracker App.

We will provide you with a monthly summary of all of your donations received that have been tracked through the Diversion Tracker App along with a summary of your overall impact metrics (e.g. the number of meals provided, the weight of food diverted, CO2 emissions saved etc.)

What kind of device do we need to use the Diversion Tracker App?

You can install the Diversion Tracker App on any smart device (e.g. a smartphone or a tablet), or you can also use your personal computer. Access to the app is by invitation only.

What sort of containers are the food donations provided in?

The donations are usually provided in banana boxes, as the store has access to a consistent supply of them. Banana boxes do not have to be cleaned and returned to the store. For donations that are wet or juicy, we ask the store to line the box with a clean bag, to avoid any mess.

I am unable to fulfil one of my scheduled pickups. What should I do?

You are responsible for finding another charitable organization to fulfil your pick-up on your behalf. If you are having any trouble finding a replacement charitable organization, please let us know as soon as possible.

FoodMesh has impacted us in many good ways. We are getting more food from stores we did not get food from before. We are able to assist local farmers in feeding their animals from what is not edible from what we pick up. FoodMesh has been a good experience and we really look forward to working with them in the future. 

Jim Calamunce, Executive Director of the Langley Food Bank

Ready to start receiving fresh food donations?

Find a store with a donation program near you

Contact us if you have any questions about how this program works.