March 3, 2014
Late last week, the USDA’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) posted a Request for Applications (RFA) for the 2014 round of the Community Food Project Grants Program (CFP). Unfortunately, NIFA posted this to their website without issuing a press release or a Federal Register notice, so there was no way of knowing the RFA had been issued unless one happened to be checking the correct webpage.
Initiated in 1996, CFP is a competitive grant program supporting the alleviation of food insecurity in low-income communities through projects which:
Eligible entities include public food program service providers, tribal organizations, or private nonprofit entities, meeting specific requirements as set out in the RFA. Among other requirements, applicants must have experience in one or more of the following areas: (1) 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, (2) job training and business development experience for food related activities in low-income communities, or (3) efforts to reduce food insecurity in the community, including food distribution, improving access to services, or coordinating services and programs. Applicants are encouraged to seek and create partnerships with other organizations.
Approximately $5 million will be available for this funding cycle. Applications are due 5:00pm EST on March 31, 2014.
For abstracts of past funded projects, please click here.
Grant Types Available
For this round of funding, NIFA has added a new grant type to its usual two available grant types. The following three types of grants are available:
1) 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 & 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 three years is $300,000.
2) 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 $25,000 for the total project period. The maximum grant period is three years.
Both Community Food Projects and Planning Projects must provide a dollar-for-dollar match for all federal funds awarded, and may provide the match through cash and/or in-kind contributions, including third-party in-kind contributions. Non-federal funding matches may come from state government, local government, other non-profit entities, or private sources, but not other federal sources.
3) Training and Technical Assistance Projects, examples of which include assistance in project development, grantsmanship training, project evaluation, leadership development, and/or assistance on a particular type of project, such as youth farm enterprises, urban farms, community gardens, direct marketing, and farm-to-institution methods. Activities to carry out training and technical assistance may include a telephone hotline, workshop training, peer to peer interaction, one on one training, curricula development, webinars, and/or video-conferencing.
This new category of grant type is intended to help assist individual organizations in the development and submission of Community Food Projects and Planning Projects proposals and assist current program grantees more effectively operate their projects. Projects under this category should be designed to have national relevance and to provide expertise in a broad array of community food activities. Pilot projects are not eligible under this category.
In 2014, NIFA plans to award one, large multi-year grant award for training and technical assistance. The maximum award for any single year is $250,000 and NIFA expects to make one award of $500,000 over a two to three year period. The maximum grant period to carry out the project is three years.
Stakeholder Input on Request for Application
USDA also seeks stakeholder comments about this Request for Application (RFA) to consider in developing the next Community Food Projects RFA. Comments can be submitted via e-mail to: Policy@nifa.usda.gov or by mail to the following address: Policy and Oversight Division; Office of Grants and Financial Management; National Institute of Food and Agriculture; USDA; STOP 2299; 1400 Independence Avenue, SW; Washington, DC 20250-2299. Comments should state that you are responding to the Community Food Projects RFA. The deadline to submit comments is August 14, 2014.
Farm Bill Changes
While the 2014 Farm Bill provided changes to CFP, none of them were incorporated into this current RFA. Changes to take effect in FY 2015 are: the increase in mandatory funding to $9 million and the extension of the grant period from three years to five years.