Community Food Projects

To support the development of community food projects designed to meet the food needs of low-income people; increase the self-reliance of communities in providing for their own needs; and promote comprehensive responses to local food, farm, and nutrition issues.

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Related Programs

Examples of Funded Projects

Family Gardens and Neighborhood Markets-Three New Communities; Patchwork Family Farms; Value-Added Processing for Community Food Security; Native American Food Systems Project; Lowell Farming and Food Project.

Agency - Department of Agriculture

Established in 1862, the Department of Agriculture serves all Americans through anti-hunger efforts, stewardship of nearly 200 million acres of national forest and rangelands, and through product safety and conservation efforts. The USDA opens markets for American farmers and ranchers and provides food for needy people around the world.

Website Address

Relevant Nonprofit Program Categories


Program Accomplishments

Grants were awarded for projects designed to increase food security in communities by bringing the whole food system together to assess strengths, establish linkages, and create systems that improve the self-reliance of community members over their food needs.

Uses and Use Restrictions

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: (1) Improved access to high quality, affordable food among low-income households; (2) support for local food systems, from urban gardening to local farms that provide high quality fresh food, ideally with minimal adverse environmental impact; and (3) expanded economic opportunities for community residents through local business or other economic development, improved employment opportunities, job training, youth apprenticeship, school-to-work transition, and the like.

Any solution proposed must tie into community food needs.

Successful applicants must provide matching funds, either in cash or in-kind amounting to at least 50 percent of the total cost of the project during the term of the grant award.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

Proposals may be submitted by private nonprofit entities.

Because projects must promote comprehensive responses to local food, farm, and nutrition issues, applicants are encouraged to seek and create partnership among public, private nonprofit and private for-profit organizations or firms.

To be further eligible for a grant, a private nonprofit applicant must meet three mandatory requirements: 1.

Have experience in the area of: (a) community food work, particularly concerning small and medium-sized farms, including the provision of food to people in low-income communities and the development of new markets in low-income communities for agricultural producers; or (b) job training and business development activities in low-income communities; 2.

demonstrate competency to implement a project, provide fiscal accountability and oversight, collect data, and prepare reports and other appropriate documentation; and 3.

demonstrate a willingness to share information with researchers, practitioners, and other interested parties.

Beneficiary Eligibility

Low income people.


Prior to the award of a grant, a prospective grantee organization must furnish information about the organization upon request from USDA. This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular No. A-87.

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination

All proposal solicitations are published in the Federal Register.

This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular No.

A-102 and E.O.


Application Procedures

Formal proposal submission to the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service in accordance with the Community Food Projects program guidelines which will be issued annually.

Award Procedures

Proposals are reviewed and evaluated by CSREES staff members with the assistance and advice of peer panels of specialists who are uniquely qualified by training and experience in their respective fields to render expert advice on the merit of proposals being reviewed. Proposals are supported in order of merit to the extent permitted by available funds. Proposals recommended for funding as a result of the merit review then undergo a financial and administrative review. Upon completion of all reviews, a grant award is issued.


All proposal submission deadlines are announced in the proposal solicitation published in the Federal Register.


Food Stamp Act of 1977, Section 25, as amended; Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996, Section 401, Public Law 104-127.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

From 90 to 180 days.





Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

There is a matching requirement of 50 percent Federal and 50 percent nonfederal support of the project during the term of the grant. The nonfederal share may be provided through payment in cash or in-kind contributions in the form of fairly evaluated facilities, equipment, or services. The nonfederal share may be derived from State or local governments, or from private sources.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

From one to three years.

Post Assistance Requirements


Quarterly financial reports, annual progress reports, and final financial and final summary progress reports.


In accordance with the provisions of OMB Circular No. A-133 (Revised, June 2, 2003), "Audits of States, Local Governments, and Nonprofit Organizations," nonfederal entities that expend financial assistance of $500,000 or more in Federal awards will have a single or a program-specific audit conducted for that year. Nonfederal entities that expend less than $500,000 a year in Federal awards are exempt from Federal audit requirements for that year, except as noted in Circular No. A-133.


Grantees must maintain separate records for each grant to ensure that funds are used for the purpose for which the grant was made. All matching contributions must be verifiable in the grantee organization's records. Records are subject to inspection during the life of the grant and for three years thereafter.

Financial Information

Account Identification



(Grants) FY 07 $4,800,000; FY 08 est $4,800,000; and FY 09 est not reported.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

$10,000 to $250,000.

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

As set forth in the program guidelines and any resulting grant award, including 7 CFR Part 3015 (USDA Uniform Federal Assistance Regulations); 7 CFR Part 3017 (Government wide Debarment and Suspension-Nonprocurement, and Government wide Requirements for Drug-Free Workplace-Grants); 7 CFR Part 3018 (New Restrictions on Lobbying); 7 CFR Part 3019 (Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals and Other Nonprofit Organizations); and 7 CFR Part 3052 (Audits of States, Local Governments, and Nonprofit Organizations).

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office


Headquarters Office

Deputy Administrator, Competitive Research Grants and Awards Management, Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC 20250. Telephone: (202) 401-1761.

Criteria for Selecting Proposals

1. The applicability and merit of the proposed project in regard to its ability to: Meet the food needs of low-income people in the proposed community for providing for its own food needs; and promote comprehensive responses to local food, farm, and nutrition needs; 2. the capacity to become self-sustaining once Federal funding ends; and 3. organizational and staff qualifications and experience; and 4. additional criteria will be considered relative to the extent the proposed project contributes to: (a) developing linkages between two or more sectors of the food system; (b) supporting the development of entrepreneurial projects; (c) developing innovative linkages between the for-profit and nonprofit food sectors; (d) encouraging long-term planning activities and multi-system, interagency approaches; and (e) incorporating linkages to one or more ongoing USDA themes or initiatives referred to in the program guidelines and/or annual proposal solicitation.

Vertical farms are designed in a way to avoid the pressing issues about growing food crops in drought-and-disease-prone fields miles away from the population centers in which they will be consumed.

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