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Community Food Projects Competitive Grants Program

Providing grants to develop community food projects in low-income areas

Program Basics
This program supports the development of community food projects designed to meet the food needs of low-income people; to increase the self-reliance of communities in providing for their own needs; and to promote comprehensive responses to local food, farm, and nutrition issues. It also supports efforts to meet specific state, local, or neighborhood food and agriculture needs for improving and developing infrastructure; planning for long-term solutions; or creating innovative marketing activities that mutually benefit agricultural producers and low-income consumers.

Other objectives of the program are to: develop linkages between two or more sectors of the food system; support the development of entrepreneurial projects; develop innovative linkages between the for-profit and nonprofit food sectors; and encourage long-term planning activities and multi-system, inter-agency collaboration.

A match of 50 percent non-federal support of the project (dollar for dollar) is required during the term of the grant. The non-federal share may be provided through payment in cash or in-kind contributions in the form of fairly evaluated facilities, equipment, or services. The non-federal share may be derived from state or local governments, or from private sources.

Project Examples
Can be seen at the Food Security Learning Center at:

Application and Financial Information
Each year the Community Food Projects program guidelines are published on The program also maintains a list of people who will be notified by e-mail about the start of the solicitation period. You may ask to be placed on this email notification list by calling or e-mailing

All proposal guidelines and submission deadlines are outlined in the Request for Applications. Formal proposals are submitted through to the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) of USDA. Grant awards are announced within 5 months from the deadline for submission of proposals.

Proposals are reviewed by NIFA staff members with the assistance and advice of peer specialists and are evaluated on the basis of multiple criteria including the project's ability to:

Also reviewed will be the organizational and staff qualifications and experience of the sponsoring organization and the extent to which the proposed project contributes to:

Proposals must also indicate that projects have the dollar-for-dollar match from non-federal sources that are required for this program. Projects may be funded for 1 to 3 years. Past grants have ranged from $10,000 to $300,000. It is anticipated that it will be funded at $5 million each year through fiscal year 2012.

Eligibility, Uses, and Restrictions
Proposals may be submitted by private nonprofit entities for projects involving low-income people. Because projects must promote comprehensive responses to local food, farm, and nutrition issues, applicants are encouraged to seek and create partnerships among public, private nonprofit and private for-profit organizations or firms.

To be competitive for a grant, a private nonprofit applicant should meet three requirements:

Community food projects are intended to take a comprehensive approach to developing long-term solutions that help to ensure food security in communities by linking the food sector to community development, economic opportunity, and environmental enhancement. Comprehensive solutions may include elements such as:

Any solution proposed must address community food needs.


Dr. Elizabeth Tuckermanty, Program Director
National Program Office
USDA-NIFA, Stop 2241
Washington, DC 20250-2241
Phone: (202) 205-0241

Last Updated January 26, 2010

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