Common questions about the GFAP Equipment and Physical Improvement Grant can be found below. If you have questions that are not addressed, please email your question to the program administrator, Ashley Bress. Questions and answers will be added to the page as they are received.
- Organizational Eligibility
- Eligible Areas
- SNAP/WIC Eligibility
- Eligible Items
- Letters of Support
- Application Process
We applied last year and got awarded a grant, can we apply again?
Yes, you can apply again for the GFAP grant.
My organization aggregates and packages local produce and ingredients for a meal box delivery program. Would this organization be considered an eligible entity as a "food hub"?
Based on the information that you provided, it seems that the organization would meet the definition of a food hub and would be eligible to apply.
We are an organization that grows produce and then we bring it to a market where we it’s available for a free-will donation, so we aren’t a retailer. Are we eligible to apply? Would we need to be able to accept SNAP if we are funded?
Based on the information provided, it does not sound like you would be eligible for this program as a retailer because the food is being distributed for donation, not sold. If you were a retailer and received a grant, you would need to accept SNAP in order to receive any funds from it.
Would an on-farm store qualify to apply for this program? Our address where the store will be is located in a low income area and the areas that we would serve are all low income with a couple areas also being listed food deserts.
Yes, the retail operation would be eligible. Any expenses related to producing and harvesting of the farm products would not be eligible.
Could a city economic development authority (EDA) submit the application for a grocery store receive funding? The EDA has more experience writing grants and it would be far easier for them to accomplish the task than the business owner.
Yes, an EDA is the perfect example of an organization applying on behalf of and acting as the fiscal agent for the eligible applicant (the retail grocery). The application could be submitted by the EDA with the EDA as the applicant and the fiscal host, or the EDA could assist the grocery in writing the application and have the grocer submit the application.
Can GFAP funds be used for pick-your-own farms?
GFAP funds cannot be used for the growing/harvesting of fruit from trees and bushes. However, many pick-your-own operations have facilities where customers come to pay for their fruit and buy pre-picked fruit and other items. GFAP funding may be used to purchase coolers, shelving, etc. that is needed for retail purposes. The retail operation would need to meet all eligible location criteria.
Can GFAP funding be used to support a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm?
GFAP funds cannot be used for the growing/harvesting of products. However, a CSA operation may need equipment such as coolers and refrigerated trucks in order to sell their shares and products. The CSA operation would need to justify how the equipment would be used to support retail sales in eligible locations.
Can GFAP funds be used for a food pantry/food shelf?
No, GFAP Equipment and Physical Infrastructure grants cannot be used for typical food shelf operations. These funds are intended to help retailers (i.e. sellers of unprepared foods) sell more affordable, nutritious, and culturally appropriate foods. However, if the food shelf also operates a retail outlet, that portion of the organization may be eligible for GFAP funding.
Can GFAP funds be used for a senior congregate feeding site?
No, the GFAP funding is not intended for congregate feeding sites regardless of whether the customer pays for their meal or not. These funds are intended for grocery stores and small food retailers as defined in on page 4 of the RFP.
Is a Meals on Wheels/home delivery meal service program eligible for funding?
A Meals on Wheels/home delivery prepared meal program does not meet the eligible applicant criteria. Eligible applicants are for-profit and not-for-profit grocery stores and small food retailers. The definition of “small food retailer” includes businesses and organizations such as corner stores, convenience stores, farmers’ markets, mobile food market, and retail food outlets operated by an emergency food program or food hub. These entities are primarily focused on the sales of unprepared foods rather than prepared meals.
Can GFAP funds be used for a small restaurant?
No, the GFAP funding is not intended for restaurants. Funding is limited to retailers, such as grocery stores, corner stores, and farmers’ markets.
We’re a non-profit organization that is not a food retailer. However, we’re a food business incubator that works with small food businesses. Could we purchase a truck to help these small food companies distribute their products? This would lower the distribution costs for these food businesses.
Based on the information provided, it does not sound like this project would be eligible. If the food businesses are using the trailer to make deliveries to retailers (e.g., grocery stores and corner stores), it would not be eligible. If the food businesses are selling directly from the trailer to customers and those businesses can meet all other eligibility requirements, then it may be considered eligible.
What is the process for appealing an inadequacy of census tract and food desert data to determine grant eligibility?
We do not have a process for appealing the eligibility data, but if a project is designated an ineligible area, we recommend checking to see if the surround census tracts are designated as eligible areas. Projects may be eligible for funding if they can reasonably justify how they serve residents of an eligible area.
We have two stores in two different counties. They each have their own Minnesota Department of Agriculture license. Do I need to fill out an app for each store or can I attach an addendum to an application?
You can either apply for each store separately or combine both stores into one application. A reminder that applications can only request a maximum of $50,000 regardless of the number of stores.
Our project is physically located in a census tract that is neither a food desert nor another low- or moderate-income area. We serve residents in nearby census tracts that are eligible though. Are we eligible to apply?
You may apply for a GFAP grant. It is your responsibility to demonstrate how the project will serve residents of a food desert or individuals with limited access (such as the elderly or disabled) in a low- or moderate-income census tract.
Does a retailer need to participate in SNAP to be eligible for this grant?
Proposals that involve retailers not currently accepting SNAP and/or WIC will be forwarded for review. Grant contracts may be awarded to these applicants, but the applicant will not receive reimbursement for project expenses until the retailer is authorized to accept SNAP and has applied to accept WIC. Please see page 4 of the RFP.
Our store is located around several senior high rises. We currently accept SNAP/EBT and we are licensed a retail food handler. Do we need to also accept WIC to be eligible for this grant?
Yes. The statute that governs the GFAP is clear that grant recipients must accept SNAP and must apply to accept WIC, and if approved, accept WIC benefits. While it’s not imperative that the applicant have already applied to accept WIC, the applicant will need to do so as a condition of receiving funding.
Can funds be used to purchase a shipping container (to be used for produce and agricultural equipment storage) or for the equipment to make an existing shipping container more secure?
Based on the information provided, this does not sound like an eligible use of GFAP funding. Equipment purchased through GFAP needs to be used to enhance the retail portion of your organization, rather than agricultural production. This sounds like it would be eligible for the AGRI Urban Agriculture Grant.
Can funds be used to purchase equipment for our hoop house to upgrade security and add passive solar energy? Both of these improvements will support increased produce yields and the security of locally grown produce to be sold in our community.
No, this would not be an appropriate use of GFAP funds, presuming that the hoop house is being used for production. The GFAP funding needs to focus on the retail environment. If you’re eligible, this sounds like it would be eligible for the AGRI Urban Agriculture Grant.
Can GFAP be used to install flooring in meat coolers to bring them to code?
The flooring would be eligible as a physical improvement, however the applicant would need to provide a really good case on how the new flooring will increase the availability or and access to affordable, nutritious, and culturally appropriate foods. If your business slaughters/processes Minnesota grown/raised meat, you may be eligible for the AGRI Value-Added Grant.
Can we apply for a roof repair or replacement since the grant includes architectural items?
The roof, and any associated architectural costs, would be eligible as a physical improvement, however the applicant would need to provide a really good case on how the new roof will increase the availability or and access to affordable, nutritious, and culturally appropriate foods.
Can we buy land?
No. Land and building purchases are listed as ineligible costs in the RFP. Although the land/building are ineligible, you might consider other infrastructure needs that would in the building on or land such as tables, sheds, coolers, etc.
Can GFAP funding be used for vehicle leases or fuel?
GFAP Equipment and Physical Improvement Grant funding cannot be used for leases or fuel. We generally consider short term leases as operating costs, which are not covered by this opportunity. The only exception would be if it was a lease-to-own arrangement. The organization would need to have full ownership of the vehicle by the end of the contract, set as September 30, 2018 in the RFP. As for fuel, we always consider that to be an operating expense.
Can funds be used for the installation of equipment we already own but have not been able to install?
Yes, GFAP Equipment and Physical Improvement Grant funds may be used for installation costs. Page 3 of the RFP specifically cites installation as an eligible cost.
Can funds be used to purchase kitchen and bakery equipment such as ovens? The foods we process will be sold in-house.
No, standard kitchen equipment is not eligible. However, equipment to display those items would be eligible.
We are a farmers market that is moving to alternative site for the next two years. Can we request funds for electricity, bathrooms, flat surfaces, and a credit card/EBT terminal?
Yes, all the expenses you listed are eligible. You should make a compelling case about how each item/improvement will facilitate food access.
Are grantee costs for the direct costs of grant administration eligible? This would the applicant's time spend directly interacting with sub-awardees (e.g. the grocery stores themselves), data gathering, and reporting/compliance.
No, grant administration costs are not eligible. The Eligible Grant Projects and Expenses section of the Request for Proposals states that, “eligible grant projects are the purchase and installation of equipment and the costs incurred to make physical improvements.”
Is applicant (when it’s a third party applying on behalf of several retailers) travel to the stores an eligible expense? I'm picturing at most one trip per retailer for the project. The reason for travel would be to address issues of reporting, confirming space allocations, and all of the various stuff involved in ensuring compliance. (I know that MDA anticipates such travel as part of its compliance checks, but I'm looking at issues of applicants' organizational due diligence in the use of public funds).
In general, applicant expenses would not be an eligible expense unless it is directly related to the purchase and installation of the equipment or physical improvements being made to the retailer. Travel for issues relating to reporting and compliance would not be eligible.
We completed a project last March in which we doubled the size of our produce department. Would we qualify for this grant?
GFAP funds can only be used to reimburse project expenses incurred after a grant contract has been signed. Since the project is already complete, it would not be eligible for this grant.
We would like to get started on our project sooner than the grant guidelines allow. Is it possible that we could start work now so that we can continue moving forward, and then be reimbursed if we are awarded the grant? The grant timeline doesn’t line up well with our project.
No, unfortunately, we cannot change these guidelines. We can only reimburse for work done during the contract period. If there are certain parts of your project that would be completed during the grant contract period, those specific parts of the project may be eligible for reimbursement.
Our timeline is fairly tight. Some of our eligible costs may need to be incurred between application and possible award of funds. Are those costs eligible for funding?
We can only pay for expenses incurred after a contract has been signed. We expect to notify successful applicants 6-8 weeks after the grant closes; the exact timeline will depend on the number of applications that are received. In your budget, only include the projected expenses that will be eligible for this grant based on the timeline. In the Investment section, you might want to talk about those ineligible expenses to demonstrate the organization’s commitment to the project.
What types of letters of support should we include?
It’s up to you to determine if you include letters of support and who those letters would be from. We provide a few suggestions such as community-based organizations that are active in the healthy eating arena, local producers/distributors, and financial institutions that may be backing your project. See page 13 of the RFP.
Are there any limit on the number of the Letters of Support?
There is no character limit on the letters of support.
Do we need to submit updated letters of support? We applied last year and were not funded.
We recommend that you get new letters of support, even if they are from the same supporters and simply have the dates changed. Minor changes are fine. Reviewers tend to frown upon having letters of support with year old dates on them. Updated letters help demonstrate your commitment to the project.
Is a match required?
A match is not required. We encourage you to think about the investments (monetary or non-monetary) that you can contribute to your proposal. For example, if you are looking to buy a cooler, you might think about if your organization can do the installation.
There’s a fillable PDF for the application, but some of the longer, narrative questions don’t have response fields. How do we submit those?
You can submit those questions as a separate Word/PDF document. However, if you have the ability to submit your application via our online grants management system, you should do it that way. This will ensure that a) you don’t miss a question or go over the character limit, and b) all the information is inputted as you intended. If you have to submit your proposal via email or snail mail, we’ll enter it into system, but if possible, you should do this as the applicant.
Can applicants upload supporting materials like pictures at some point in the application process?
Yes, we are able to accept supporting materials like pictures. We request that any supporting documentation sticks with the spirit of word counts. For example, it wouldn’t be appropriate to upload a 20 page business plan, but a few pictures is fine. You can use any of the upload boxes in the online application for this.
Will the review committee have access to last year’s unfunded proposal?
The review committee will not have access to your funded or unfunded proposals from last year. You’ll need to include all of the information in this year’s proposal that you want the committee to have access to.
We have a $50,000 project. Are we better off requesting the full amount or just a portion of it? Will the MDA award partial funding?
The MDA sometimes award partial funding because of limited resources or ineligible expenses. We can’t advise on whether you should request the full amount needed or just a portion of it. In your application, you should make a compelling case for your needs to help improve your chances of being funded.
Do equipment quotes need to be submitted as a part of the application?
Quote are not required, but it is generally in the best interest of the applicant to include any quotes or bids. The Budget and Cash Match section of the scoring criteria includes points for having expenses backed by quotes or other sources.