Signing up a new business to OLIO and becoming a Squad Starter

What is a Squad Starter?

A Squad Starter is an OLIOer who has approached a local business themselves and has signed them up to OLIO so that Food Waste Heroes can save their surplus food from going to waste by distributing it to the local OLIO Community via the app. What are you waiting for? Become a Squad Starter by earning your in-app badge, and be a force for good in your neighbourhood.

Who can be a Squad Starter?

Anyone! If you’re an OLIOer and you want to get involved and help a local business become zero-edible-waste, we’d love you to become a Squad Starter. Just note that you must take the food safety training by registering as a Food Waste Hero before you can register as a Squad Starter.

Do I need to be a Food Waste Hero to be a Squad Starter?

Yes, as a Squad Starter you are signing businesses up to our Food Waste Heroes programme and you’ll hopefully be collecting from them too, alongside other Food Waste Heroes. You must therefore register as a Food Waste Hero and complete the food safety training first.

Why does OLIO HQ want OLIOers to sign up businesses themselves?

OLIO has a small team, and though we’d love to, we simply don’t have the capacity to sign up thousands of smaller businesses for free surplus food collections. But the reality is that we have to make as many local businesses join OLIO to achieve our mission to reduce the amount of food that is wasted in our communities. That’s why we’re relying on our Squad Starters to kickstart things in their local communities and bring small local businesses onto OLIO.

What kinds of businesses can I approach?

We have a whole page dedicated on how and who to approach, but to summarise, we recommend that you approach local, independent businesses first as they’ll be easier to bring on board.

How can I convince businesses to share their surplus food with OLIO?

What you are offering businesses is the opportunity to be zero-edible-waste for absolutely free! It’s great for the environment, the community, and for staff morale as no one wants to bin perfectly good food every day. What’s not to love about it? If a business isn’t ready yet, just move on and remember that it might take several no’s to get a yes, so keep persevering!

Take a look at our page on approaching business for all our tips and tricks, or share our Food Waste Heroes programme overview with the businesses you’re talking to.

Do I have to approach businesses in person?

We recommend that you approach businesses in person as it’ll give you the best opportunity to have an open conversation with a decision maker and get the relevant documents all signed on the spot. Just remember to try and visit at a quiet time during the day, often that’s between 10-11am and 2-4pm

If you’d rather approach the businesses over phone or email first, then that’s absolutely fine but just remember that the documents still need to be filled in and you should meet them in person to explain how it will work for them.

What information do I need from businesses to sign them up?

We need 3 documents from you to get businesses signed up.

  1. Signed food business donor agreement
  2. Allergen information from the business
  3. Collection schedule as requested by the business

Please visit this page to download the above documents. We suggest that you print them off ready to take to the store and get them filled in and signed whilst you’re there. Allergen information can also be provided in other forms as explained below. Once you have the documents ready, please send them in via the link on the page to

What is the food business donor agreement?

The food business donor agreement is a contract between the business and OLIO that outlines each party's mutual responsibilities to ensure safe food sharing. This must be signed by the food business and submitted to OLIO before collections can begin.

Why do you need the allergen information from businesses and which formats can I provide this in?

It is against the law to not declare allergen information. Businesses must provide this to you if you ask. We can accept a high-resolution photograph of the allergen information (clearly legible), or a document if the business can email it to you. Otherwise, the business must fill in the allergen information of their products on the document we provide on this page. All allergen information from businesses we collect from will be made available on our website.

What is the business collection schedule?

The business collection schedule is a document to gather important information about the specifics of collection from a business. This includes agreed collection times, business contact information, food types, and whether or not a FWH should call ahead. You can fill this in with the agreement of the business, and can also request which day you would like to collect once the collections are set to begin.

I’ve spoken to the business and they want to speak to OLIO HQ. What should I do?

After you’ve done your best to try and answer their questions yourself, please ask them to send in an email to and we’re happy to have a chat with them!

The business says they don’t have surplus food all the time. What should I do?

Food Waste Heroes collect from many businesses which don’t have surplus food every day. Tell the business that the Food Waste Heroes can call ahead (about 1 hour before the collection time) to check if there is a collection needed that day.

If a business has extremely irregular surplus e.g. only when they clean out their store cupboard or fridges, then you can direct them to request a one-off Food Rescue by filling in the form as and when needed.

I have approached a business and they’ve said ‘no’. What do I do next?

Don’t be disheartened by a rejection! It might take several no’s from businesses to get one yes so just keep going! If you’d like extra support to help you along the process, just get in touch.

How can I get support as a Squad Starter?

If you think you might need extra support, please first post on the forum of our app or our closed Volunteer Facebook group. You can crowdsource ideas and help from our amazing community. If you’d like to reach OLIO HQ, please email into

Once I register the business with OLIO, what is my role in the Squad?

We hope that once you’ve registered the business and we’ve set them up that you will stay on to lead the squad as Squad Captain. This is a really exciting role and keeps you in touch with the business who you’ve signed up. You are allowed an additional collection slot at each new store you've signed on as a Squad Starter! Take a look at our Squad Captain FAQs to learn more.

The business says they’re not allowed to give away any unsold surplus food. What should I do?

Ask the business why they’re not allowed to give away unsold food. If it’s because they’re concerned about food safety, please refer to the question below. If they’re concerned about giving away food for free that could otherwise be sold, reassure them that OLIO’s Food Waste Heroes will only take food that can no longer be sold as the final step to save it from the bin.

The business is concerned someone could fall ill from the food they give away via OLIO. What should I do?

OLIO has a local-authority-approved Food Safety Management System, including a HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) study, and further practical guidelines. All Food Waste Heroes undergo food safety training as part of their registration process.

The Food Business Donor Agreement outlines food safety responsibilities of the business, the Food Waste Hero, and OLIO. The business is responsible for food safety up until it is collected by the Food Waste Hero, after which the food business is no longer liable.