* Applications are now closed for the Safe at Retail Cost-Share Program *

The federal coronavirus relief funds appropriated to the Commissioner of Agriculture provides financial assistance to Retail Food Handlers impacted by COVID-19. Funds are made available to help purchase equipment and supplies to keep employees and customers safe and operational during the COVID-19 pandemic, to develop safety procedures as they relate to COVID-19, update and retrofit retail locations, and for public education efforts on the need to follow safety procedures. 

Businesses that hold a current, active Retail Food Handler license are eligible to apply. Businesses that hold a different type of license or registration - including food service businesses like restaurants, or cottage food producers - are not eligible to apply. See details below. 

Applicant Eligibility

To be eligible, you must be a licensed Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) or MDA Delegated Retail Food Handler as defined in Minn.Stat 28A.05: "Retail food handlers are persons who sell, or process and sell, food directly to the ultimate consumer, or who custom process meat or poultry. The term includes a person who sells food directly to the consumer through the use of vending machines, and a person who sells food for consumption on site, or off site if the sale is conducted on the premises that are part of a grocery or convenience store operation."

Businesses in Minnesota who hold a current, active Retail Food Handler license with one of the following agencies may be eligible to apply:

  • Minnesota Department of Agriculture
  • City of Bloomington
  • City of Brooklyn Park
  • City of Minneapolis
  • City of Minnetonka
  • City of Saint Cloud
  • Hennepin County
  • Ramsey County

Examples of eligible businesses include groceries, bakeries, meat markets, convenience stores, and similar operations. 

Eligible Purchases

With this program, you may purchase equipment or supplies that will help you follow the Best Practices for Retail Food Stores, Restaurants, and Food Pick-Up/Delivery Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Purchases made after March 1, 2020 are eligible for reimbursement.  

Examples of eligible equipment and supplies include, but not limited to:

  • Facemasks or face shields provided to employees or the general public.
  • Signs or stickers to communicate proper handwashing and social distancing.
  • Equipment, such as plexiglass, cones, rope, fencing, tape, chalk, etc., that assist the business to create walkways, safe barriers, modify or direct traffic flow or help encourage 6 feet of separation from others.
  • Hand sanitizer or wipes provided to the public.
  • Sanitation supplies to clean all surfaces that people touch - tables, handwashing stations, door handles, card machines, shopping carts/baskets, etc..
  • Additional seating options for outdoors.
  • Disposable prepackaged utensils.
  • Implementation of workplace controls to reduce transmission among employees such as pre-screening and other measures described in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's Implementing Safety Practices for Critical Infrastructure Workers Who May Have Had Exposure to a Person with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19. 

Amount Available

If you are a licensed retail food handler that meets the applicant eligibility criteria, you may be reimbursed up to $500 for eligible expenses. Entities with more than one license may be reimbursed up to $500 per license with a maximum total reimbursement of $2,000 per entity. 

Payments are limited to the actual amount spent to purchase eligible items. These purchases must be documented with copies of receipts or paid invoices that you include with your application. Payments are made approximately two to four weeks after your application is approved. 


We will accept applications beginning August 12, 2020 through August 31, 2020, or until all funds are gone, whichever is first. Applications received before or after this period will not be eligible. 

Funds will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Businesses will receive payment approximately two to four weeks after their application is approved. 

Application Dates
Application form available for downloading/printing  July 31, 2020
Applications Open: First day that applications will be accepted  August 12, 2020
**Applications Closed: Last day that applications will be accepted  August 31, 2020

Submitted applications must include the following documents:

  1. Completed and signed application form.
  2. Copy of receipts/paid invoices/proof of purchase for the items you are submitting for reimbursement. We recommend only including eligible items on the receipt and that you retain the originals for your records.  
  3. IRS Form W-9, signed and dated. 

To help ensure your application is complete and submitted properly, please thoroughly read and understand the instructions in the Application Form.

Send completed email applications to safeatretail.mda@state.mn.us or by postal mail to 625 Robert St. N, St. Paul, MN 55155.

It is your responsibility to ensure your application is received before the deadline. We are not responsible for any technical or logistical problems resulting in not receiving your application on time.

To help ensure your application is complete and submitted properly, please thoroughly read and understand the instructions included with the Application Form