USDA Funding Available

Community Food Projects Grants

The USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is now accepting applications for their Community Food Project Grants Program. The deadline for submitting applications is Nov. 30, 2015, at 5:00pm, though applicants should allow at least two weeks for the application process. This competitive grants program was initiated in 1996 with the goal of supporting food security in low income communities through projects that:

  • Increase community self-reliance in meeting food needs
  • Encourage comprehensive responses to local food, farming & nutrition issues
  • Meet food needs through distribution, outreach to improve participation in federal nutrition programs, or improving access to food
  • Meet specific regional, state, or local food & ag needs, particularly related to equipment or planning needs or innovative marketing activities.

This RFP is open to public food program service providers, tribal organizations, or private, non-profit entities who have experience in community food work, job training, business development, and food insecurity reduction efforts.

This year, NIFA expects to award more than $8.5 million in grants for three kinds of projects:

  • Community Food Projects, including value chain projects, farmers’ markets, farm to institution, and consumer coops.
  • Planning Projects, including food assessments feasibility studies, and other analyses.
  • Training/Technical Assistance, including project evaluation, assisting project development and management, and grantsmanship training.

Interested applicants can download the Request for Applications on NIFA’s website.

NIFA is also accepting feedback on this year’s RFA to help develop the one for next year. Feedback can be sent to policy@nifa.usda.gov and should state that you are responding to the Community Food Projects RFA. The deadline to submit comments is Monday, April 4, 2016.

Since the program’s inception, NIFA has awarded more than $90 million to over 400 projects. This year, NIFA awarded $8.6 million in grants to 32 projects through this program. Nine of those grants, totaling just under $2.5 million – roughly 30 % – went to recipients in the NESAWG region, including:

  • DC Central Kitchen, Inc., Washington, District of Columbia, $374,007
  • Regional Environmental Council, Inc., Worcester, Mass. $400,000
  • Cultivating Community, Portland, Maine, $375,000
  • Northeast Brooklyn Housing Development Corporation, Brooklyn, N.Y., $375,000
  • Myrtle Ave Comme Revitalization & Development Project LDC, Brooklyn, N.Y., $161,451
  • Cornell Cooperative Extension of Sullivan County, Liberty, N.Y., $34,270
  • Rochester Roots, Inc., Rochester, N.Y., $374,830
  • Janus Youth Programs, Inc., Portland, Ore., $400,000
  • Rodale Institute, Kutztown, Pa., $262,115
  • Thundermist Health Center, Warwick, R.I., $35,000

Cultivating Community, a Portland, ME-based, food justice and education organization, will be using their grant to sustain their new food hub, expand gardening programs, add mobile markets with SNAP & WIC access, and help young people become growers, healthy eaters & food justice advocates.

To apply for the program, visit USDA NIFA’s webpage (includes the current RFA).

To learn more about the other 2015 recipients of CFP grants, read USDA NIFA’s news release.

To learn more about the program in general, read the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s blog post.

Photo credit – Cultivating Community