CDA hosted public engagement workshops to engage stakeholders on the development of the Community Food Access program. The Program Design Workshops took place on the following days:
- Thursday, February 23
- Monday, February 27
- Wednesday March 1
The workshops were conducted in English with Spanish interpretation, and were attended by 166 people, including community members, farmers, small food retailers, distributors, community and grassroots organizations, non-profit organizations, local and state government employees, and more. View the workshop presentation here.
You can view the recordings of the workshops on the CDA YouTube channel or on the right. Key takeaways are presented below.
- Key Takeaways from the Program Design Workshops
Key issues stakeholders brought up in workshops are summarized here:
- The program should focus on the disparities of food access in Colorado
- The SNAP program presents challenges for individuals and store owners alike; support is needed to increase utilization of this federal food assistance program.
- Low income families are more likely to travel further to a larger store where they’ll find better prices and SNAP / WIC benefits than shop at a smaller, closer store.
- Small food retailers lack the infrastructure required to purchase foods from distributors, and to purchase food in bulk.
- Infrastructure investments for small food retailers will have direct, immediate impacts in low income, low access areas by increasing healthy food availability, lowering prices, increasing store hours, and more.
- Many small farmers struggle to sell to grocery stores. Many farmers struggle to connect to low-income communities.
Key themes regarding the design of the Community Food Access program were:
- Small food retailers and small farmers need a simple, straightforward application.
- Grant requirements need to be transparent and well communicated.
- Outreach efforts must leverage trusted relationships already present in low income, low access communities.
CDA plans to incorporate this feedback into the program design.
- Workshop Partners
CDA is committed to accessibility. If you need these materials translated into another language, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below is a list of questions asked during the Public Engagement Workshops for the Community Food Access program, hosted by the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) in partnership with the Colorado Blueprint to End Hunger.
- Eligible Proposals for Grant funding
Can this grant be used for delivering? Transportation?
Yes. However, the delivery costs must be related to the purpose of this program, which is to “improve access to and lower prices for healthy foods in low-income and underserved areas of the state by supporting small food retailers” 35-1-117.” (House Bill 22-1380).
What about starting an indoor, year-round FM?
As long as the farmers market meets the other criteria, it would be eligible.
Can these funds be used to grow produce specifically for WIC participants?
Proposals should focus on the mission of this program which is to “improve access to and lower prices for healthy foods in low-income and underserved areas of the state by supporting small food retailers” 35-1-117.” (House Bill 22-1380). These funds are not eligible for the purchase of food.
I wanted to check to see if these funds could be used to pay staff for their time.
This will be determined by our Advisory Committee. Consider that grants are limited to $25,000 each, and can only be granted once per business. All funds must be expended before December 31, 2026. Additionally, payroll reports would need to be submitted if funds were used in this way, and the applicant would need to prove that no supplanting was occuring.
- Advisory Committee
This is an unpaid volunteer role? The Advisory Committee?
Advisory committee positions are paid per meeting hour, if the committee member is not otherwise being paid by their employer. See our Advisory Committee web page.
- Conflicts of Interest
Would participating in the grant advisory cause conflict of interest if you also intend to apply for grant funding?
Yes, this would be a conflict of interest.
Wouldn’t it be a conflict of interest if other food access nonprofit individuals participate in the advisory committee.
Advisory Committee members must disclose any potential conflicts of interest, including personal or professional associations with any businesses intending to apply for the grant.
- Compliance with Federal Regulations
For this grant, will grantees have to follow Federal compliance regulations?
CDA will be exploring ways to keep the application, reporting, and paperwork as minimal as possible for applicants, while remaining compliant. The CDA mission is to provide applicants technical assistance to fully understand any compliance requirements before applying for a grant.
In the legislation, one part of the small food retailer definition is “located in or provide food to local, state, or federally-defined low-income, low-access neighborhoods.” Has CDA made decisions on whether to use federal, state, or local definitions to determine focus areas? How do we find out where our "low income areas" are located?
We are working with our compliance liaisons, legal support, and soon, our Advisory Committee to offer more guidance about low income, low access neighborhood definitions.
It was mentioned that applicants would need to show being negatively impacted by COVID shutdowns, do we know what that kind of proof we will look like? Many small farms increased sales during pandemic but incurred many negative costs and impacts. In order to demonstrate cv19 had a neg affect I assume that means the business had to be established by a certain date? do you have a date of establishment.
CDA is still exploring the specifics of the SLFRF requirements to prove negative impact from COVID-19. Businesses do not need to have existed prior to the pandemic to be eligible for the grant, however.
Do you see duplication between this program and the Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program (LFPA)? Or, how do you see this program is different?
This program is focused on small food retailers, and will be geared towards improving the retail food environment through infrastructure grants, grants for POS systems and SNAP / WIC authorization, and other essential operating costs to increase access to and lower prices for healthy food in low income, underserved areas of the state. This program will not support local food procurement for food banks, large institutions, etc. The only eligible applicants for this grant are small food retailers and small family farms.
- Eligible Businesses
I am a plant based food restaurant. Can the grant be used towards the purchase of a food truck?
Restaurants are not included in the definition of small food retailer. To be eligible, the food truck must be used for the retail sale of federally defined staple foods (hot foods and ready to eat foods are not staple foods).
Are food pantries considered "small retailers"? If we purchase and distribute food?
No, this entity doesn’t fit the description of “small food retailer” or “small family farm”.
Could this apply to a food truck operating before COVID that now is trying to open a retails space?
The grant can be used to help with start up costs of new enterprises. The business applying must be a small food retailer or small family farm.
Is the 5000 sq ft limit for grants a hard limitation? What if we are slightly over 5000 sq ft? Can you explain how you arrived at the 5000 sq ft limit on the definition of a small food retailer?
The 5,000 sq feet is outlined in HB22-1380, so it’s not negotiable. Bear in mind, it only refers to retail space (areas where customers shop for staple foods) and does not include back storage space, loading docks, parking lots, kitchens, administrative offices, etc. The bill drafters defined small food retailers in this way; CDA was not involved in creating this definition.
Are aggregators/distributors eligible to apply if we are supporting retailers/small farms in one of the eligible areas?
Distributors don’t match the definition of small food retailer or family farm, but collaboration with distributors and aggregators will be important in the Consortium. A distributor perspective would also be welcome on the Advisory Committee.
With regards to small family farms, would urban gardens and/or donation based community gardens eligible to apply?
The CDA team will need to explore this more. Bear in mind that the purpose of this program is to “improve access to and lower prices for healthy foods in low-income and underserved areas of the state by supporting small food retailers” 35-1-117. The project proposal will need to be aligned with this mission statement.
Does that mean new entities are not eligible for grants? IE establishing a new market in a community w/ low access.
New entities are eligible, as long as they fit the definition of small food retailer or small family farm outlined in the bill.
Could “Food Retailer” mean a cafe or coffee shop that serves 3 of 4 of the staples? What if a nonprofit has a space that is getting remodeled/built out for a co-op? Would that classify as a small food retailer?
As long as the establishment meets the definition in the legislation, and the proposal is for expanding retail access to healthy food, it is eligible. Note that each application will have unique circumstances that may change the eligibility outcome. More guidance will be coming from material specific to the grant announcement.
Would a CSA on on-line marketplace be considered a retail outlet?
This kind of business sounds like a “farm direct” operation, which would be eligible, assuming other criteria are met. Bear in mind that food costs are not eligible for this grant.
What if the farm doesn’t have a retail outlet or “sells” food in a traditional way?
Farms may still apply for funding even if they do not have a retail outlet. As long as their proposals support the retail sale of healthy food in low income, low access areas, they are still eligible. Some examples might be: refrigerated trucks to deliver food to small food retailers, coolers and storage space to increase inventory for small food retailers, etc.
Can a non-profit farm be considered a “small family farm”?
Yes. The proposal will need to be related to the purpose of this program, which is to “improve access to and lower prices for healthy foods in low-income and underserved areas of the state by supporting small food retailers” 35-1-117.” (House Bill 22-1380).
Are these funds targeted towards farms and businesses already accepting SNAP? Or is all kinds of food access considered
As long as the farm meets the other criteria, they are eligible to apply whether or not they accept SNAP. They are eligible to apply regardless of their participation in any food access program.
If I rent my farm/land, do I qualify? (Original question: Si yo tengo una finca en renta puedo calificar?)
A farmer does not need to own their property to be eligible.
- Other Questions
Are grant funds considered taxable income?
Will this program interface with Double Bucks program
Grant proposals could certainly include requests for operating costs associated with running the Double Up Food Bucks program. Connection to this program will certainly be offered as a resource through the Consortium. Learn more about Double Up Food Bucks.
Are locally grown seeds eligible for SNAP?
Yes, as long as they are seeds for food producing plants. Learn more about products eligible for purchase with a SNAP EBT card on the USDA FNS website.
Is there a way to share this information with the Colorado Farmers' Market association? We have our annual meeting next weekend and I think it would be very interesting to many of our participants to learn about this work.
Yes. We plan to present this program to CFMA in April and then again in the fall.
May we request that this powerpoint be made available via Dropbox or G Drive?
Yes, this powerpoint is available on our website.