NSAC's Blog

Community Food Project Funding Now Available

February 17, 2015

On February 13, 2015, the USDA’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) posted a Request for Applications (RFA) for the 2015 round of the Community Food Project Grants Program (CFP), with total grant funding available nearly doubled to $9 million thanks to the 2014 Farm Bill.  NSAC campaigned to double the funding for CFP in the farm bill and in the final bill Congress increased the funding from $5 million to $9 million a year.

Despite the increase in funding, NIFA unfortunately did not provide either a press release or a Federal Register notice announcing the release of the CFP RFA. This marks the second consecutive year that the RFA has been released only on the NIFA webpage (late on a Friday before a three-day weekend), making it very difficult for prospective applicants to know about the RFA unless one happened to be checking the correct webpage.

Approximately $9 million will be available for this funding cycle. Applications are due 5:00pm EST on March 17, 2015.

Only electronic applications will be accepted via Grants.gov. NIFA reminds applicants that for new users 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.

For abstracts of past funded projects, please click here.

Grant Types 

For this round of funding, two 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.

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.

Community Food Projects: An Overview

Initiated in 1996, CFP is a competitive grant program supporting the alleviation of food insecurity in low-income communities 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.

Eligible entities include public food program service providers, tribal organizations, or private nonprofit entities, including gleaners, meeting specific requirements as set out in the RFA. Among other requirements, applicants must have experience in one or more of the following areas:

  • 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 experience for food related activities in low-income communities, or
  • efforts to reduce food insecurity in the community, including food distribution, improving access to services, or coordinating services and programs.

The RFA also states that applicants should collaborate with 1 or more local partner organizations to achieve at least 1 hunger-free communities goal.

Farm Bill Changes

The 2014 Farm Bill provided for an increase in mandatory funding to $9 million starting in FY 2015 and an extension of the maximum grant period from three years to five years.


NIFA has announced a webinar for potential applicants to take place this Thursday, February 19, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time. To connect to the webinar, click on the following link: http://nifa-connect.nifa.usda.gov/cfp2015.

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. Comments should state that you are responding to the Community Food Projects RFA. The deadline to submit comments is August 12, 2015.

Categories: Farm Bill, Grants and Programs, Local & Regional Food Systems

Comments are closed.