Please note that the Grassroots Guide has not yet been updated to reflect changes made by the 2018 Farm Bill, which was passed and signed into law in December 2018. We are in the process of updating the Guide and expect to publish an updated version in the spring of 2019. In the meantime, please use this guide for basic information about programs and important resources and links for more information, but check with USDA for any relevant program changes made by the 2018 Farm Bill. Also, check out our blog series covering highlights from the new farm bill.
Increasing access to healthy, local food and improving food security works best when communities are able to develop their own solutions, based on local knowledge, assets, and needs. The Community Food Projects Competitive Grants Program (CFP) awards grants to eligible nonprofits, tribal organizations, and food program service providers to promote self-sufficiency and food security, address specific needs, and provide comprehensive, community-based solutions in low-income communities. Projects vary in scope, ranging from community gardens with market stands to marketing and consumer cooperatives, but must involve low-income participants.
Learn More About CFP!
CFP is a competitive grants program that is administered by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Grants are intended to help eligible nonprofits, tribal organizations, and food program service providers in need of a one-time infusion of federal assistance for projects that promote self-sufficiency and food security, address specific needs, and provide comprehensive, community-based solutions in low-income communities. These one-time grants require a dollar-for-dollar (1:1) match in resources, which can include in-kind support.
CFP grants can fund projects that:
Examples of CFP projects include, but are not limited to: community food assessments, GIS analysis, community gardens with market stands, value chain projects, food hubs, farmers markets, farm-to-institution projects, and marketing and consumer cooperatives.
CFP awards have funded projects in more than 400 communities in 48 states in the program’s 19-year history. Thanks to the 2014 Farm Bill, CFP funding has been increased to $9 million in mandatory funding per year starting in Fiscal Year 2015 — nearly double its $5 million annual funding level from the 2008 Farm Bill.
Public food program service providers, tribal organizations, and private nonprofit entities meeting the following three requirements are eligible to receive a CFP grant:
Since 1996, CFP has provided over $90 million in grants to hundreds of local food security projects.
For example, CFP grants have been used to:
To read descriptions of all CFP-funded projects since 2000, visit: Why Hunger – Community Food Projects
NIFA typically releases a Request for Applications (RFAs) once a year. Applicants are usually given one month to complete and submit their applications to NIFA, using the online system grants.gov – but preparing an application in advance of the RFA is wise. Proposals are then reviewed by panel of experts, including producers, consumers, educators, and extension specialists, and evaluated for relevance, applicant experience, and overall impact of the project.
Interested applicants can find out more about program and application requirements, future RFAs, and how to apply for funding at USDA’s CFP program page.
NIFA also actively recruits farmers, community food advocates, and non-profit leaders to serve on the Peer Review Panel for CFP. Contact the National Program Leader listed in the RFA for more details on serving on the panel.
CFP was established in the 1996 Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act and has been reauthorized in every subsequent farm bill. The 2014 Farm Bill amended the program in several ways: allowing “gleaners” to be eligible to receive funding, requesting that projects achieve at least one hunger-free community goal, and expanding the period of grants from 3 to 5 years starting in Fiscal Year 2015.
CFP also saw a sizable increase in funding in the 2014 Farm Bill. The bill provides the program with $9 million in mandatory funding per year starting in Fiscal Year 2015, nearly double its $5 million funding level provided by the 2008 Farm Bill.
Community Food Projects Grants Funding
|Fiscal Year||Total Funding Available (in millions)|
|5 yr total||$41|
|10 yr total||$86|
Section 4026 of the Agricultural Act of 2014 amends Section 25 of the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008, to be codified at 7 U.S.C. Section 2034
Last updated in October 2016.