Funding Opportunities for Healthy Food Projects
The lack of access to healthy foods faced by lower-income communities is a well-known problem, and finding ways to fund programs aimed at addressing the issue can itself be a challenge.
Fortunately, resources exist to help you find funding and technical assistance for your healthy food initiatives.
A great place to start is the Healthy Food Access Portal. Launched in 2013 by PolicyLink, The Food Trust, and The Reinvestment Fund, this comprehensive online database provides a list of available funding sources – both public and private – for promising food delivery projects. It also catalogues food-related advocacy work and successful programs from across the country.
The portal’s sponsors recently hosted a webinar on federal funding opportunities entitled Funding Your Healthy Food Project with USDA Resources. Participants included a presenter from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) who discussed popular USDA and other federal grant opportunities. USDA-supported projects from Louisville and Detroit were also described by representatives from Louisville Forward and Eastern Market.
So, where are these federal dollars?
These are the key food access funding sources featured during the webinar:
- The Community Food Projects Competitive Grants Program (CFPCGP) – This particular grant is one of the most popular, and has been around since 1996. Part of the appeal is the flexibility – Grants are awarded for a large variety of projects. This year, there is a total of $9 million to distribute, and the deadline is approaching – March 17, 2015 – but as an ongoing program, it will be available annually.
- The Farmers Marketing and Local Food Promotion Program - This program has two parts, the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) and the Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP). The goal of the FMPP is to make sure farmer’s markets and other direct-to-consumer food service entities are adequately supported through technical assistance, marketing, education, and other outreach activities. The LFPP provides similar support for intermediary players like local processors, wholesale distributors, or food hubs. $30 million in funds will be awarded - Both programs will be open sometime this spring.
- Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Program (FINI) – A newly created program, FINI is focused on increasing the acceptance of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to increase the purchase and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables among low-income consumers. The first round closed this past December, and awardees from this initial cycle will be announced in the spring.
- Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) – The HFFI began five years ago as a public-private partnership, and was recently incorporated into the farm bill, which placed the program within the USDA, and authorized $125 million to fund an array of healthy food projects. Click here for a state-by-state list of successfully funded projects.
For an additional federal food access support service, consider the USDA resource - Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Project (KYF2) - that lists USDA funding opportunities - Grants, Loans, and Support - and tracks where and how these allocations are put to use through an interactive compass and map.
Are any of these options particularly useful to your food distribution efforts? What types of programs are you undertaking?
Logo Courtesy of the USDA