Blog | October 20, 2015

Help spread the word: Community Food Project grants now available

by Kassia Perpich

Farm Aid is passionate about connecting family farmers and farm service providers with the tools, resources and information they need to thrive. One of our programs, the Farmer Resource Network, does just that. Whenever we hear about new research publications, conferences, on-farm trainings, advisory services and other resources that help strengthen family farm livelihoods, we immediately activate our Farmer Resource Network to spread the word to farmers and farm service providers, connecting them with information that is timely, important and relevant for their work.

One major resource we’re always on the lookout for is funding opportunities. Often times these opportunities fly “under the radar.” They aren’t always widely publicized, and sometimes they have tight deadlines or complex applications. In those instances, it’s important for us to quickly spread the word, ensuring that farmers and farm service providers are made aware of these funding opportunities and have ample time to prepare their applications.

A current example of this is the USDA’s Community Food Project Grant Program (CFP), which has been supporting the alleviation of food insecurity in low-income communities. They do this through projects which:

  • Promote community self-reliance in meeting their own food needs;
  • Encourage comprehensive responses to local food, farm, and nutrition issues;
  • Meet food needs through food distribution, community outreach to assist in participation in Federally assisted nutrition programs, or improving access to food as part of a comprehensive service; and
  • Meet specific state, local or neighborhood food and agricultural needs including needs relating to equipment necessary for the efficient operation of a project, planning for long-term solutions, or the creation of innovative marketing activities that mutually benefit agricultural producers and low-income consumers.

Last week, the USDA’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) posted a Request for Applications (RFA) for the next round of CFP funding. $8.64 million dollars of funds are available. The turnaround time to submit an application is very tight, with applications due no later than 5:00 pm EST on November 30, 2015.

The application process often takes more than two weeks to complete, which is why we need your help!

Do you know of organizations or efforts in your community with experience in:

  • Community food work, particularly concerning small and mid-sized farms, including the provision of food to low-income communities and the development of new markets in low income communities for agricultural producers;
  • Job training and business development for food related activities in low-income communities or;
  • Efforts to reduce food insecurity in the their community, including food distribution, improving access to services, or coordinating services and programs?

If so, please forward this post and make them aware of this great opportunity!

For this round of funding, three types of grants are available:

  • Community Food Projects, examples of which include community gardens with market stands, value chain projects, food hubs, farmers’ markets, farm-to-institutions projects, and marketing and consumer cooperatives. All projects must involve low-income participants. The maximum Community Food Project award in a single year is $125,000 and the maximum award over four years is $400,000.
  • Planning Projects, examples of which include community food assessments’ coordination of collaboration development, GIS analysis, food sovereignty study, and farm-to-institution exploration.  All projects must involve low-income participants. The maximum Planning Project award is $35,000 for the total project period.  The maximum grant period is three years.
  • Training & Technical Assistance Projects, examples of which include workshop training, peer-to-peer interaction, one-on-one training, assistance with evaluation, webinars, and/or video-conferencing. All projects must involve low-income participants. The maximum Training & Technical Assistance Project award in a single year is $250,000. The maximum award over a two-to-four year period is $500,000.

Farm Aid is collaborating with New Entry Sustainable Farming Project and additional partners to provide free one-on-one technical assistance and resources to applicants. If you are interested in receiving assistance, please fill out this intake form.

There are also three upcoming webinars available to help prepare applicants:

  • General CFP Information
    Hosted by USDA
    Thursday, October 22 at 2:00 pm EDT
    Go here to join
  • Grants.gov for CFP Applicants
    Hosted by New Entry
    Monday, October 26 at 1:00 pm EDT
    This webinar is geared towards those who have never submitted an application on Grants.gov or would like a refresher. Register here
  • Evaluation component of CFP Application
    Hosted by New Entry
    Wednesday, October 28 at 1:00 pm EDT
    This webinar will review the requirements for the evaluation component of the CFP application. Hosts  will review logic models and talk about Whole Measures and Indicators of Success. This webinar is geared towards those with less experience in evaluation or those who would like to learn more about CFP specific evaluation. Register here

Only electronic applications will be accepted via Grants.gov. For users new to Grants.gov, the registration process can take as long as 2 weeks to complete, making it critical to begin the registration process as soon as possible.

To learn more about inspiring Community Food Project grants, past and present, check out this great Digital Storytelling site.

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