The Community Food Access program strives to increase access to and lower prices for healthy food in low income, low access areas of the state by supporting small food retailers and small family farms.
Colorado legislators passed House Bill 1380 in 2022, creating the Community Food Access program. The program utilizes State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds from the American Rescue Plan Act to support small food retailers and small family farms committed to expanding access to healthy food in their communities.
The Colorado Department of Agriculture plans to host up to three grant rounds before September 2024 and distribute a total of $5.5 million in funds through this program. After December 2024, the grant program will end and support for this program will continue through a tax credit program. The maximum grant award will be $50,000 per business, per year.
A printable version of the information on this webpage is available in the Grant Guidelines below. The Grant Guidelines are available in English and Spanish. Additional language translations will be made available upon requests made up to 10 days before the application deadline.
Una versión imprimible de la información en esta página de internet está disponible en las directrices de subvenciones aquí. La Guía de Subvención está disponible en inglés y en español. Se pondrán a disposición traducciones de idiomas adicionales con previa solicitud realizada hasta 10 días antes de la fecha límite de solicitud.
The second round of the Small Food Business Recovery and Resilience grant is open now.
Email a Budget and Budget Narrative to firstname.lastname@example.org. Program staff will reply within three business days confirming receipt of the budget. If you do not receive a confirmation, please resend the budget.
Small Family Farms ONLY. Letter(s) of support should be emailed with the budget.
All application materials are due no later than 3:00 pm MDT on March 11, 2024.
¡Aplique hoy mismo!
La segunda ronda de la subvención de Recuperación y Resiliencia de Pequeñas Empresas Alimentarias ya está abierta.
Envíe por correo electrónico un presupuesto y una narrativa del presupuesto a email@example.com. El personal del programa responderá dentro de los tres días hábiles confirmando que se recibió. Si no recibe una confirmación, vuélvalo a enviar.
SOLAMENTE para pequeñas granjas familiares: las cartas de apoyo deben enviarse por correo electrónico junto con el presupuesto.
Todos los materiales de solicitud deben entregarse a más tardar para las 3:00 p.m. del 11 de marzo de 2024.
When can I apply?
Round 1 of the application opened on September 27, 2023 and closed on November 7, 2023.
Round 2 will open January 16th, 2024 at noon, and close on March 11th, 2024 at 3 pm. Round 2 is expected to be the final round of this grant program.
If your business or organization wants to expand access to healthy food but is not eligible for this grant, we’d still love to hear from you.
Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and our team will see if there are other resources we can connect you to, or if you’re interested in being involved in the Community Food Consortium.
|Closed Nov 7, 2023
|Round 1 Reflections Webinar
|January 10, 2024
|Round 2 Application Opens
|January 16, 2024
|Deadline to submit written inquiries
|March 4, 2024
|March 11, 2024
|Notification of award
|May 31, 2024
Check this website for updates to the schedule.
Who should apply?
The Small Food Business Recovery and Resilience Grant is for Small Food Retailers and Small Family Farms who want to expand access to healthy foods in their communities.
- Small Family Farms
A farm that is Colorado-owned and Colorado-operated and has an annual gross revenue below three hundred fifty thousand dollars ($350,000).
- Small Food Retailers
- An independent or nonprofit-managed, Colorado-owned, and Colorado-operated small food retail business, defined as a food retailer with less than ten thousand square feet of retail space that carries at least three categories of federally defined staple foods, and be located in or provide food to local, state, or federally defined low-income, low-access neighborhoods; or
- A farmer's market or farm-direct operation that is already or demonstrates an intent to become SNAP and WIC -authorized where allowed.
- Food in the following categories: meat, poultry, or fish; bread or cereals; vegetables or fruits; and dairy products. The meat, poultry, or fish category also includes up to three types of plant-based protein sources as well as varieties of plant-based meat analogues. The dairy category also includes varieties of plant-based dairy alternative staple food items such as, but not limited to, almond milk and soy yogurt.
- Hot foods do not qualify as staple foods. Commercially processed foods and prepared mixtures with multiple ingredients that do not represent a single staple food category shall only be counted in one staple food category.
- “Staple food” does not include accessory food items, such as coffee, tea, cocoa, carbonated and noncarbonated drinks, candy, condiments, and spices.
- What does "Healthy Food" Mean?
- Fresh, frozen, unprocessed or minimally processed produce;
- Locally grown or raised products;
- other food items that may not be normally present in a particular location but that serve the culinary and health needs of a particular population;
- nutrient dense proteins and grains;
- or other foods meeting a local definition of “healthy” and that provide nutritional value for human health.
Healthy foods do not include prepared foods or hot and ready foods.
For more definitions, scroll to the bottom of this webpage.
What are Low Income, Low Access (LILA) Communities?
Small Food Retailers and Small Family Farms must be located in or serve a Low Income, Low Access (LILA) community in Colorado to be eligible to receive funds. Use the maps below for guidance:
- Dark purple areas on this America’s Healthy Food Financing Initiative map are eligible to apply.
- Tribal areas are considered LILA areas.
- Qualified Census Tracts on this US Department of Housing and Urban Development map are considered LILA areas. When using this map, be sure to zoom in past level 7, and select the “Color QCT Qualified Tracts” box on the left.
Businesses may still apply even if they are not located in nor serve a population in one of the qualifying areas listed above. A narrative with supporting data outlining the ways in which their community meets a local definition of “Low Income, Low Access” must be provided in the application.
Round 1 Reflections Webinar
Information Session Recordings
What expenses will the grant support?
Many types of expenses are eligible for funding through this grant.
Applicants will need to demonstrate how requested funds will be used to increase access to or lower prices for healthy food in LILA communities.
- Eligible Equipment
- Cold Storage: Refrigeration and freezer units (consumer-facing or storage);
- Display shelving and display cases;
- Produce scales;
- Food preservation equipment in order to extend the availability of healthy food for customers beyond the local harvest or slaughter calendar;
- Deli slicers and meat grinders for fresh meat;
- Dry storage containers;
- Major repairs or updates to existing equipment listed above;
- Delivery trucks that will be primarily used for the transportation of healthy food to LILA communities (refrigerated or standard vehicles);
- Major repairs or updates to delivery vehicles that provide transportation of healthy foods;
- New or used farming and ranching equipment that will demonstrably and significantly increase retail healthy food access in LILA communities, including but not limited to equipment that is essential for planting, harvesting, packing, storing, extending the growing season, raising food-producing animals, and shipping healthy food.
Not Eligible Equipment Expenses:
- Storage or retail display equipment for alcoholic beverages, soft drinks, sports and energy drinks or cannabis products;
- Vending machines that do not offer healthy food;
- Storage or equipment for prepared foods; and
- Equipment that will not result in expanded access to or lowered prices for healthy food for LILA communities.
- Point of Sale (POS) Machines
- New POS systems, including software, hardware, monitors, printers, and incidental supplies that are directly related to implementing or improving SNAP, WIC, or other food incentive program
- Staff training expenses
- Upgrades to existing POS systems
- Purchasing or updating POS systems that are not equipped to accept SNAP and / or WIC
- Accounting and Book Management Support
- Online accounting systems
- Technical support through contracted services
- CPA financial audits not related to SNAP, WIC, or other healthy food incentive programs
- Operating Expenses
Eligible Distribution Expenses:
- Inventory tracking systems
- Mileage to deliver to small food retailers
- Contract delivery services, including last-mile delivery
- Direct to consumer online order systems and delivery costs
Eligible Personnel Expenses:
- Services or staff time associated with the installation of eligible equipment
- Staff time associated with becoming SNAP or WIC authorized, maintaining authorization, or managing an ongoing healthy food incentive program
- Services or staff time associated with small construction projects or build outs related to expanding access to healthy food
- Services or staff time related to creating educational material highlighting new healthy food offerings
- New staff to maintain supply, stock, ensure proper storage, and ensure rotation of new perishable healthy food offerings.
Eligible Packaging and Storing Expenses:
- Packaging materials for healthy foods
- Contract services for packing and storing
- Construction of buildings for storage
- Storage containers
Eligible Education Expenses:
- Educational material that directly targets LILA communities in Colorado
- Translation and interpretation services
- Signage related to healthy food promotion, SNAP, WIC, Double Up Food Bucks, or any healthy food incentive program
- Signage or educational materials for local products and local producers
- Marketing costs, so long as there is a reasonable connection to expanding access to healthy food for LILA customers
Eligible Retail Operating Expenses:
- Remodeling to accommodate display and storage of healthy foods
- Increased utility expenses related to recent (within one year of grant application opening) or new purchase of equipment to expand healthy food access/options
- Equipment for mobile stands to sell healthy foods at temporary locations, including tents, coolers, and tables
Eligible Operating Expenses Associated with Becoming Authorized to offer SNAP, WIC or another Incentive Program:
- Technical Assistance (contractors) to support becoming or remaining authorized
- Tuition or registration for education and training
- Subscription for SNAP/WIC payment processing app
- Other operating expenses the Commissioner determines qualify as directly improving food access to LILA communities
Not Eligible Operating Expenses:
- Direct purchase of food
- Existing and recurring retail and farming operation expenses that do not directly provide increased access to healthy food for LILA communities
- Down payments, mortgages, or lease payments
- Loan repayment
- Utility expenses unrelated to expansion of healthy food access
- Taxes and insurance
- Travel expenses (lodging, meals, and transportation)
- Salaries for new employees not related to expanding capacity to increase access to or lower prices for healthy foods for LILA communities
- Salaries or bonuses for existing staff not related to expanding capacity to increase access to or lower prices for healthy foods for LILA communities
- Expenses related to alcohol or cannabis products
- Funds cannot be used to satisfy settlements or judgments and payments of debt services, make deposits into pension funds, or fund programs, services, or capital expenditures that include terms/conditions that undermine the effort to stop the spread of Covid-19
The application review panel will consider the following criteria in evaluating an application for a Grant Award:
- Whether all eligibility requirements for receiving a Grant Award are satisfied;
- The degree to which the proposal will significantly and directly increase the capacity for a Small Food Retailer to offer healthy food in a LILA community or a Small Family Farm to distribute healthy food to LILA communities; and
- The proposal’s likelihood of success.
- The ultimate geographic distribution of all Grant Awards to ensure that at least 30 percent of Grant Awards go to Eligible Businesses in Colorado’s rural areas.
The application review panel will give priority scores to proposals that:
- Have the capacity to reach the greatest number of low-income Colorado residents, or, for low population areas, the greatest proportion of a LILA community;
- Have the capacity to substantially reduce the price of healthy food for low-income Colorado residents;
- Have the ability to create a lasting impact beyond the time period of funding;
- Result in dollars remaining in community (reducing “retail leakage”);
- Promote comprehensive responses to local food access, farm, and nutrition issues;
- Are submitted by a member of an underserved area of the state; and
- Demonstrate a plan that advances or implements responsible environmental stewardship, including by reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.
To optimize the utilization of funds available, the evaluation committees, Advisory Committee, and Department may recommend a Grant Award less than the amount of funds an applicant requests.
Who can I talk to for help applying?
The Community Food Access program partners with Outreach and Technical Assistance organizations across the state.
CDA staff are also available for support in multiple languages. Send an email to email@example.com with any questions or call (720) 417-9376 for help in English or Spanish.
What happens after the grant is awarded?
- Documents to Submit
Documentation must match information provided by the business on the grant application. Awardees will be required to submit the following documentation:
- Electronic Funds Transfer form
- Documentation proving eligibility, which includes:
- Small Food Retailers (stores)
- Retail Food Permit
- Documentation proving the square footage of your retail space. This can include lease agreements or deeds. If store owners do not own documentation proving square footage, a legally binding attestation will be required.
- Documentation proving recent purchase of at least three types of staple foods. This can include purchase orders, invoices, or delivery receipts.
- Small Food Retailers (farm direct operations and farmers’ markets)
- Documentation proving SNAP or WIC authorization, or proof of intent to become SNAP or WIC authorized
- Small Family Farms
- Income statement, Profit and Loss statement or other financial document (Schedule F, Form 165) proving annual gross income is less than $350,000.
- Small Food Retailers (stores)
- Beneficiary Attestation
Awardees will be required to sign a Beneficiary Attestation and meet with the Department to outline the expected activities from the awardee, payment and proof of purchase submission timeframe, and more. Read the attestation. En español.
Awardees will be paid the award amount in full after the beneficiary attestation is signed.
Awardees will be required to submit receipts for all eligible purchases made. Failure to submit receipts will result in an audit, and potentially, the need to repay grant funds to the Colorado Department of Agriculture. Receipts proving purchase of approved expenses must be submitted no later than three months after payment is issued. If the actual cost is less than the amount awarded, awardees will be required to repay the excess funds.
The table below details the type of documents required to be submitted to CDA for each expense type.
Expense Type Required documentation Equipment Proof of purchase, receipt Hourly or salaried employee Payroll register, time sheets Supplies Proof of purchase, receipt Mileage Route images, with starting and ending address Contracted services Proof of payment, receipt
Examples of proof of purchase include bank statements showing the funds have cleared the account, images of cashed checks, and screenshots of completed transactions.
Between six months to one year after funds have been expended, a reporting form will be sent to awardees, seeking information about capacity increases that occurred as a result of the funding. Reporting will help build a case for the efficacy of supporting small food retailers and small family farms as a way of increasing food security.
- Site Visits
CDA’s program team may perform site visits after awards have been allocated. CDA staff will coordinate with grantees in advance of the visit to schedule a time. Grantees must be willing to comply with this requirement.
What other resources are available?
Small Food Retailers and Small Family Farms looking for more support in expanding access to healthy food in low income communities are welcome to take advantage of other aspects of the Community Food Access program.
Community Food Consortium
This group of small food retailers, small family farms, and other businesses and organizations on the retail food supply chain will meet to share resources, improve systems, and remove barriers to nourish communities. The mission of the Community Food Consortium is to work to ensure small, independent, community-focused food retailers and farmers can succeed and better serve low income and underserved areas of the state by expanding access to local, healthy foods at affordable prices.
In January 2024, small food retailers and small family farms will be able to receive an 85% tax credit (for the calendar year 2024) on equipment such as cold storage, display cases, POS machines and more that expand access to healthy food in low income and underserved areas of the state.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can grant funds be used to pay for food?
No, food is not an eligible grant expense.
- Can food pantries apply for the grant?
No, this grant is intended to enhance the retail food purchasing environment for low income Coloradans. Only small food retailers and small family farms are eligible to receive grant funds.
- Can restaurants apply for the grant?
No, restaurants and food trucks are not eligible for grant funding. Proposals focused on prepared foods are outside of the scope of this grant as well (see "Healthy Food" definition).
- Can grant funds be used to grow food for schools, childcare centers, food pantries, or free food for WIC families?
School food programs and charitable food programs are outside the scope of this grant program. This grant is focused on expanding retail food opportunities - places to purchase groceries.
- What if several eligible businesses want to apply for the purchase of a shared expense, such as a refrigeration unit that all eligible businesses would utilize?
This may be allowable on a case-by-case basis. Applicants must apply separately, however. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
- What if my application isn’t awarded?
Businesses may apply again in the second round of the grant. After the final round of grants have been awarded, businesses will have the opportunity to pursue a tax credit for equipment expenses related to expanding access to healthy food.
- If my application is awarded, will I receive the funds on a “reimbursement basis”?
No, funds will be sent to awardees in advance of making purchases. However, before an awardee can be paid, they must invoice the department with details on the expected purchase, and after the purchase is made, they must submit receipts and proof of purchase. Please see the “Payment” section below for more information.
- I’m a farmer - which application should I fill out?
The application is branched, meaning your answer to the first question will dictate which set of application questions you’ll answer. If you are a farmer applying for equipment or operating expenses to sell your products to consumers (point of sales machines, display cases or shelving for a market or farmstand), fill out the “small food retailer” application.
If you are a farmer applying for equipment or operating expenses related to growing or distributing food, fill out the “small family farm” application. You'll need to provide a letter of support from a small food retailer who will purchase your products. If you’re a farmer seeking compensation for both kinds of expenses, fill out the application that best fits your proposal.
- What is the Community Food Consortium?
The Community Food Consortium is a group of Small Food Retailers and Colorado Producers. The mission of the Community Food Consortium is to work to ensure small, independent, community-focused food retailers and farmers can succeed and better serve low income and underserved areas of the state by expanding access to local, healthy foods at affordable prices.
As part of this Consortium, you will be able to take part in the many benefits our members enjoy. The Consortium leadership team is working to develop and offer programs that include peer-to-peer modeling, free classes, technical assistance, and more.
Grant awardees are required to become Consortium members.
- Can the grant be used to pay for equipment I already purchased?
The grant can’t be used for prior expenses. However, if you recently purchased eligible equipment to expand access to healthy food, you can use the Community Food Access grant to support increased utility costs, personnel expenses, or other expenses related to expanding access to healthy food that’s not covered by another grant.
“BIPOC” means Black, Indigenous and People of Color. Pronounced “bye-pock,” this is a term specific to the United States, intended to center the experiences of Black and Indigenous groups and demonstrate solidarity between communities of color.
“Commissioner” means the Commissioner of Agriculture or the Commissioner’s designee.
“Department” or “CDA” means the Colorado Department of Agriculture
“Direct Impact” means an increase in the distribution or sale of Healthy Food for a LILA community, or lowered price of healthy food for a LILA community, which can be reasonably attributed as an output from a Grant Award.
“Farm Direct Operation” means a farm that sells products directly to consumers.
“Grant Award” means a contractual award of funds to an Eligible Business through the Small Food Business Recovery and Resilience Grant Program.
“Healthy Food” means fresh, frozen, unprocessed or minimally processed produce; locally grown or raised products; other food items that may not be normally present in a particular location but that serve the culinary and health needs of a particular population; nutrient dense proteins and grains; or other foods meeting a local definition of “healthy” and that provide nutritional value for human health. Healthy foods do not include prepared foods or hot and ready foods.
“Low-income, low-access community (LILA community)” means a residential area (rural, urban, semi-urban) whose residents are primarily low-income and who have limited access to affordable, healthy food.
“Minimally processed food” means a food that has been slightly altered for the main purpose of preservation but which does not substantially change the nutritional content of the food. Examples include cleaning and removing inedible or unwanted parts, grinding, refrigeration, pasteurization, fermentation, freezing, and vacuum-packaging to permit food to be stored for a greater amount of time and remain safe to eat.
“Prepared Food” means food prepared using a fuel or heat source, or packaged food intended to be consumed immediately.
“Season extension” means any actions or investment by a small family farmer or small food retailer to support both the production and sale of healthy local food during times of the year when healthy local food is not traditionally available.
“SNAP” means the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
“Staple food” means food in the following categories: meat, poultry, or fish; bread or cereals; vegetables or fruits; and dairy products. The meat, poultry, or fish category also includes up to three types of plant-based protein sources as well as varieties of plant-based meat analogues. The dairy category also includes varieties of plant-based dairy alternative staple food items such as, but not limited to, almond milk and soy yogurt. Hot foods do not qualify as staple foods. Commercially processed foods and prepared mixtures with multiple ingredients that do not represent a single staple food category shall only be counted in one staple food category. “Staple food” does not include accessory food items, such as coffee, tea, cocoa, carbonated and noncarbonated drinks, candy, condiments, and spices.
“Technical Assistance'' means direct support to an applicant for a Grant Award or an Awardee to complete and submit an application for a Grant Award; to identify and gather required documentation to receive a Grant Award; to comply with reporting and invoicing requirements after a Grant Award is offered; and to provide assistance with any other direct support that advances funding of a Grant Award to an applicant’s application for an award or an Awardee’s funding and use of a Grant Award. Technical Assistance may include translation and interpretation services upon request and as the Department determines necessary.
“Unprocessed food” means the natural edible food parts of plants and animals.
For more definitions, please view the Grant Rule.