LA Food Equity Fund

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NOTE TO APPLICANTS: Community Partners and the LA County Chief Sustainability Office are in the final stages of the grant selection process and will be notifying applicants in February. The timeline section below has been modified to reflect this change. 

Community Partners and the Los Angeles County Chief Sustainability Office are proud to launch the LA Food Equity Fund, which will invest over $9.8 million of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding into communities across LA County. Please note that the deadline has passed and the Fund is no longer accepting applications. 

Building on the community-centered equity approach of the Los Angeles Food Equity Roundtable and its Food Equity Roundtable Action Plan, these grants aim to alleviate food and nutrition insecurity and build a more sustainable and resilient food system.

Two types of grants are available:

  • Capacity-Building grants: will provide upfront funding to build capacity for activities such as food production including urban agriculture, procurement, and distribution; food recovery; waste management; food access; data/technology projects; nutrition education and communications; food preparation; safe food handling education; nutrition screenings and services in healthcare; food availability; nutritious food incentives; outreach and engagement; development of targeted materials; and development of accessible enrollment tools and processes.
  • Food Distribution grants: will reimburse organizations for the distribution of eligible items including culturally relevant food items; infant formula; personal hygiene products such as diapers; and staffing and other expenses associated with the procurement and distribution of items.

Both the Capacity and Distribution grants are one-time grants with no renewals. All funds must be expended by January 31, 2026. No funds may be used for lobbying.

Applicants should only apply for one grant in one funding category.

For an overview, please watch our informational video (slide deck with transcript here). You can also find more detailed information and application links in the sections below.

Link to application is at the bottom of this section!

Capacity Building Grants will be awarded for building community capacity for food-related services and activities, including:

  • Strengthen Food Systems and Supply Chain Infrastructure: activities may include improving efficiency in food distribution; local or climate-friendly food production or procurement; food recovery and waste management; food access for priority populations and communities; and data/technology projects.
    (Grant Amounts: $300,000 – $1,000,000)
  • Nutrition Promotion: activities may include nutrition education and communications; nutritious food preparation; safe food handling education; nutrition screenings and services in healthcare; nutritious food availability; and nutritious food incentives.
    (Grant Amounts: $150,000 – $400,000)
  • Public Benefits Enrollment: increase access to healthy foods; activities may include outreach and engagement; development of targeted materials; and development of accessible enrollment tools and processes.
    (Grant Amounts: $100,000 – $250,000)

We welcome your ideas and applications for activities that fit these criteria. We also welcome (but do NOT require) applications for activities that align with the Los Angeles Food Equity Roundtable’s strategic goals and objectives, including:

Strengthen Food Systems and Supply Chain Infrastructure

Supply chain improvement to increase efficiency and equity in food distribution:

  • Strengthen secondary markets for farmers of color by linking local and regional producers to public nutrition programs, and collaborate with local businesses and farmers to pilot and test the pop-up store/mobile models
  • Facilitate access to land and other key resources for local food production, including by supporting community gardens in food deserts and hard-to-reach communities
  • Support community leaders and entrepreneurs who are exploring innovative and nontraditional farming practices (e.g. hydroponic, vertical gardening, rooftop gardening, bio-intensive gardening, aquaculture, etc.)

Local or climate-friendly food production or procurement:

  • Support initiatives that aggregate food from small- to mid-size and disadvantaged farmers for redistribution to local consumers, such as through neighborhood markets and innovative food retail models, including public or cooperatively owned markets.
  • Promote plant-based menu options through nutrition and food procurement policies in food service settings

Food recovery and waste management:

  • Improve food waste management by testing the viability of food hubs (similar to retail distribution centers) and establish a hub and spoke logistics model to address gaps/limitations in transportation and storage space for recovered/surplus food for smaller non-profit entities.
  • Strengthen the capacity of food recovery networks to aggregate, store, and transport recovered/surplus food to food pantries and other emergency feeding operations

Food access for priority populations and communities:

  • Pilot subsidized grocery home delivery methods by partnering with programs such as LA Metro Micro and/or app-based grocery delivery services.
  • Test innovative initiatives from public and private sector organizations to bridge the mobility gaps with programs such as:
    • Creating shelf-stable grocery pickup locations near public transportation hubs
    • Testing giveaways of freezer roll-away shopping carts for individuals commuting to grocery locations on public transportation
    • Partnering with grocery store locations to pack ingredients for healthy, affordable recipes using easy-to-carry ingredients which are lightweight
    • Offering taxi services/public transportation vouchers to customers going to local grocery stores

Data/technology projects that improve performance

Nutrition Promotion

Nutrition education and communications:

  • Comprehensive and sustained community-led, nutrition education campaigns that engage local leaders & trusted messengers, culturally diverse media, digital/video campaigns for youth, and grassroots organizations

Food preparation and nutritious food incentives:

  • Creating opportunities for families and individuals to attend public teaching kitchens, cooking workshops, and grocery store-based nutrition education programs in hard-to-reach communities with nutrition information and recipes that match cultural and geographical needs
  • Expand nutrition incentives that encourage people to consume fresh vegetables and fruits

Safe food handling education:

  • Coach restaurants on the importance of safe handling of food for those with allergies and dietary restrictions, including food handling processes

Nutrition screenings and services in healthcare:

  • Expanding the capacity for patients to access sufficient, nutrient-dense, healthy food as part of their existing health and wellness plans and programs, especially utilizing culturally specific foods and recipes for those diagnosed with allergies and intolerances
  • Engage health plans to explore the feasibility of providing medically supported food and nutrition interventions to MediCal recipients, enabling doctors to prescribe food as medicine
  • Work in collaboration with health plans to effectively implement the CalAIM proposal to offer medically tailored meals to meet the unique dietary needs of those with chronic diseases. Train medical professionals and staff on how to instruct patients to enroll in reimbursement opportunities through CalAIM.

Food availability:

  • Increase the visibility and utility of food assistance programs for college students, especially supporting outreach efforts engaged with priority youth populations: foster youth, parenting students, youth who have been involved in the justice system, and other disproportionately impacted populations as well as community education programs, dual enrollment programs, and K-12 liaisons for the unhoused.

Public Benefits Enrollment

Outreach and engagement:

  • Redesign grocery and meals sites to promote a sense of inclusion and foster community camaraderie
  • Cross-promote programs and streamline enrollment processes to ensure clients are maximizing their benefits and receiving all the support they are eligible for
  • Redesign marketing materials to be more approachable, welcoming and culturally relevant.
  • Increase collaboration with transitional-age-youth shelters and service providers to ensure enrollment assistance for youth upon entering the services system for the unhoused
  • Mobile enrollment programs that travel to encampment sites and partner with temporary shelters and permanent supportive housing providers
  • Expand initiatives to integrate online benefits applications for food, cash assistance, healthcare, childcare, and other basic needs to reduce the complexity and time it takes to apply for multiple benefits programs
  • Promote nutrition directories where individuals accessing public benefits are supported in the enrollment process, including where and how to acquire culturally diverse food options

Development of targeted materials:

  • Support the development of promotional materials and plans that are accessible to people with varied disabilities
  • Develop youth-oriented marketing materials to promote public benefits to college students and reduce stigma associated with their use
  • Develop targeted messaging campaigns that include in-language messaging and trusted messengers to deliver information about CalFresh and how it does not affect public charge determinations.

Development of accessible food system enrollment tools and processes:

  • Improve the quality of customer service by making offices and call centers more accessible, increasing co-location of County department offices in more accessible spaces like schools/colleges, health clinics, food banks, and community centers targeted in high-need neighborhoods. Ensure sites and safety net program offices are open at hours that meet the needs of the priority populations they serve
  • Train public benefit providers on implicit bias and empathy & sensitivity
  • Train safety net providers with information regarding eligibility criteria across public benefit programs to advance coordinated, dual-enrollment processes
  • Expand number of ID/name change clinics and more medical-legal partnership programs to reduce access barriers for the transgender and gender nonconforming community
  • Support more telephonic and/or face-to-face enrollment processes for those uncomfortable or unfamiliar with technological interventions

To apply for a Capacity Building grant in one of these three categories, click here. 

Link to application is at the bottom of this section!

Food Distribution Grants will provide reimbursement for the distribution of food and related household necessities. Eligible items for reimbursement include culturally relevant food items; infant formula; personal hygiene products such as diapers; and staffing and other expenses associated with the procurement of items.
(Grant Amount: up to $100,000)

Distribution grants are paid on a monthly cost-reimbursement basis – you must buy and distribute the items and then submit an invoice to be reimbursed. Grantees must provide detailed itemized invoices to verify all purchases of eligible food and household supplies acquisition and the cost of distribution.

Grantees may invoice for indirect costs of up to 10% to cover all other expenses except for the food and household supplies purchased. In other words, your budget will be 90% food and supplies, and 10% indirect (covering any and all other expenses associated with distribution activities, including staffing).

To apply for a Distribution grant, click here.

 

Application Period

 

September 18, 2023 – October 30, 2023
 

Application Review

 

November 2023 – January 2024
 

Notifications

 

February 2024
 

Grant Period

 

February 1, 2024 – January 31, 2026

Those eligible to apply include:

  • Community-based organizations (CBO) with 501c3
  • Fiscally-sponsored organizations
  • Faith-based organizations
  • Small businesses
  • Social enterprises
  • Local government agencies
  • School districts

Those NOT eligible to apply include:

  • Individuals
  • State governments

Project Location:

Grants must be utilized for programs in Los Angeles County that primarily operate in geographic areas of the county determined to be in the “highest” and “high” needs categories as identified by the Los Angeles County Equity Explorer,  OR:

Financial Hardship:

Applicant organizations that serve a priority population outside of the high- and highest-need neighborhoods must provide proof that they faced at least one of the following conditions as a result of the pandemic:

  1. Decreased revenue
  2. Financial Insecurity
  3. Increased costs
  4. Decreased capacity to weather financial hardship
  5. Challenges in meeting payroll, rent or mortgage, or other operating expenses

Lobbying:

Grantees must sign a Certification Regarding Lobbying stating that no federal funds will be paid to any person for influencing or attempting to influence an elected official or employee of a public agency.

Prior Funding:

Organizations that have previously received County CARES funding or ARP funding are eligible for these grants.

As a federally funded grant opportunity, any organization who is selected to receive a grant award must have a Unique Entity ID (UEI), a 12-character alphanumeric ID assigned to an entity by the government through its website (SAM.gov).

While it is not necessary to have a UEI to submit an application for this grant program, applicants must register for an account with SAM.gov and have a UEI to ultimately be awarded. Visit SAM.gov (System for Award Management) for more information on how to register.

HOW SHOULD I APPLY?

May I apply for more than one grant, or in more than one category?

No. You may only apply for one grant in one category. In other words, you may only submit ONE grant application.

How do you feel about us using ChatGPT or other AI to write some of the answers for our application?

We understand that writing can be challenging. However, we discourage the use of ChatGPT or other artificial intelligence writing services because they tend to produce very general, non-specific narratives. This hurts your application because we don’t know the details of what you are actually doing specifically and how exactly you propose to use the grant funds. Instead, we encourage you to tell us in your own words about your organization and how you want to use the grant funds. We do not expect perfect writing!

My organization distributes food and supplies to communities in need. Should we apply for a Capacity-Building or Food Distribution grant? 

If you are requesting a Capacity-Building grant under the “Strengthen Food Systems and Supply Chain Infrastructure” category, your proposal should address strengthening your organization’s infrastructure or systems to distribute food. If you are seeking funds to purchase food and other supplies and defray the administrative costs of distributing them, your proposal would likely be a better fit for the Distribution category. Applicants are ultimately responsible for deciding for themselves which fund and category to apply to.

If we apply for a Capacity-Building Grant, may we propose activities from all three categories?

You must select one category to apply in. We recommend you emphasize your work that fits in that category. It will not hurt your application to share information about the other areas you work in, however, you will only be funded in one category.

May we use funds to buy equipment such as commercial fridges and freezers? May we use funds to buy adult diapers and/or period products?  

We will consider all requests for equipment and supplies related to food equity and distribution activities. Please describe in your narrative proposal and specify on your budget form how these purchases are directly related to your programmatic objectives.

Is promoting breastfeeding/chestfeeding eligible under the Nutrition Promotion category? 

Yes.

For the Capacity-Building Grants, are staff salaries an allowable expense?

Yes. You can find more information on the Capacity Building Grants budget template in the Instructions tab.

For the Food Distribution Grants, why doesn’t the budget template include space for personnel costs (e.g. staff salaries)?

In total, 90% of Food Distribution grants must be spent on the food and household items you are purchasing. You may spend 10% on “indirect costs,” including staff involved in receiving and distributing these items. These should be included in the Indirect Cost category, rather than itemized. Please see the Instructions tab of the Food Distribution Grants budget template.

May we use Food Distribution Grants to purchase grocery gift cards?

Yes. Please make sure that you provide information in your narrative and in the “notes” section of the Food Distribution Grants budget template explaining the programmatic purpose and justification for all expenses. Note that we will require detailed monitoring policies and procedures to prevent fraud. Grantee organizations that are distributing gift cards should be able to track and record where the gift cards are distributed in case of a future audit.

Can Community Partners provide a list of allowable and unallowable expenses?

We have broad latitude to approve a wide variety of expenses under the ARPA regulations for this fund, as long as they are clearly related to food equity and/or distribution. Please be sure to provide information in your application narrative and in the “notes” section of the budget template explaining the programmatic purpose and justification for all expenses.

Can I meet with you or share a draft of my proposal or budget so you can give me feedback?

Unfortunately, we cannot pre-review or provide specific feedback to individual applicant proposals or budgets. To ensure a fair and equitable process, we will only provide general responses directing applicants to the specific sections of the Grant Guidelines and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) made publicly available online if appropriate. We are updating our FAQ regularly.

We registered an account in Submittable. Where can we find the link to apply for the LA Food Equity Fund?

Please read the entire section for the category you are applying in (either Capacity Building or Food Distribution) above at www.communitypartners.org/foodequity. The application links are at the end of each of these sections.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE?

Our work includes multiple areas. Some are in the “high” and “highest need” categories and some are not. Are we still eligible to apply?

Yes, you should be eligible to apply. As the applicant you should choose the location for the primary address where the funded work will take place. There is space within the application for you to provide a short description of why you are utilizing a specific address within the Equity Explorer tool. (Instructions and a video for using the Equity Explorer tool are provided below in this FAQ.)

The application also allows for applicants to provide information if they work in multiple locations.

Our organization’s office or headquarters is outside the “high” and “highest” need areas, but our services are inside these areas. Are we still eligible to apply?

Yes. Describe your service areas when answering the application questions about your activities. You may also choose which address to use for the Equity Explorer – just be sure to explain why you chose that address in the space provided for this purpose.

We are an organization headquartered outside of Los Angeles County but doing work in LA. Are we still eligible to apply?

Yes, if you already have established programmatic activities and relationships with communities that you are currently serving in Los Angeles County.

Do I need a Unique Entity ID (UEI) from SAM.gov to apply for this grant?

No. You do not need a Unique Entity ID (UEI) to apply for the grant. However, registering for an active UEI is required to ultimately receive a grant award. To register for a UEI visit SAM.gov.

Additional information:

  • Register for a SAM.gov account. If you have never done business with the federal government, you will need to register your organization at SAM.gov registration is FREE. The process for entity registration includes obtaining an Unique Entity ID (UEI), a 12-character alphanumeric ID assigned by SAM.gov by providing basic information about your organization.
  • If you have previously registered for a UEI, ensure the status is active. You can check your entity status using your government issued UEI to determine if your registration is active. SAM.gov requires you renew your registration every 365 days to keep it active.
  • Contact the Federal Service Desk for help with your SAM.gov account, to resolve technical issues or chat with a help desk agent: (866) 606-8220. The Federal Service desk hours of operation are Monday – Friday 8am – 8pm ET.

May we apply if we HAVE NOT received prior CARES/ARPA funding?

Yes.

May we apply if we HAVE received prior CARES/ARPA funding?

Yes. However, if you have received prior CARES/ARPA funds, your proposal to the LA Food Equity Fund should be for a different project or activity than the one you were previously funded for.

HOW DOES THE AWARD PROCESS WORK?

How will grant awards be decided?

Applications will be reviewed and grants recommended by a diverse panel of food equity experts and staff from the County and Community Partners.

When will grants be disbursed?

Applications selected for funding can expect to receive payment approximately six (6) weeks after signing a grant agreement.

How will grants be disbursed?

Grant funds will be disbursed directly via an electronic funds transfer (EFT). Awardees that are unable to accept an EFT will be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

How will demographic data collected be utilized?

Data collected throughout the application process will be utilized to determine grant eligibility and to ensure alignment with the county’s strategic goals. Data submitted will not be shared outside of the purposes of review for this grant program.

Will I be notified if I am not selected to receive a grant?

Yes. We will notify all applicants who were not selected to receive a grant.

WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS IF WE RECEIVE AN AWARD?

If my application is selected for funding, what additional documentation will I need to provide to receive funds?

You will need to:

  • Sign a grant agreement electronically
  • Complete and submit an IRS Form W-9 and provide ACH bank transfer information
  • If applicable, provide a signed IRS tax return or Form 990 for 2021 and 2022
  • Provide an active Unique Entity ID (UEI) registered through SAM.gov
  • Provide other documentation or verification as needed

Awardees will be given a maximum of fifteen (15) business days to provide any missing information. Failure to provide needed documentation will constitute forfeiture of your application.

Are we required to provide matching funds to receive this grant?

No.

What type of reporting is required of grantees?

A limited amount of programmatic reporting will be required for selected grantees. For capacity-building grantees, Community Partners will not require fiscal reporting; however, grantees should anticipate a potential audit and should maintain appropriate fiscal records internally.

Distribution grantees will be required to submit monthly invoices for reimbursement and collect zip code data from individuals who receive distributed food and household items.

HOW DO WE GET HELP?

How do I use the Equity Explorer Tool? 

Click here for instructions, or watch this video:

How do I use Submittable?

Submittable is our online application portal. To submit an application, you must first create a free Submittable account: https://manager.submittable.com/signup.

The email address associated with your account will be used to communicate about your application. Please be sure to use an email account that is readily accessible and that you check often. Submittable should be used on Chrome, FireFox or Safari (Internet Explorer is not supported).

For technical assistance related to Submittable, please contact Submittable Customer Support: https://www.submittable.com/help/submitter/. They are available between 9am – 5pm Mountain Time and aim to respond within 24 hours. Additional help for applicants can be found here: https://submittable.help/en/collections/185534-help-for-applicants.

Whom can I contact if I have questions about the application?

If you have any questions about the information on the application, you may email Foodequityfund@communitypartners.org.

Please note that we cannot pre-review or provide specific feedback to individual applicant proposals or budgets. In order to ensure a fair and equitable process, we will only provide general responses directing applicants to the specific sections of the Grant Guidelines and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) made publicly available online if appropriate. We are updating our FAQ regularly in response to applicant questions.

Please send questions to Foodequityfund@communitypartners.org.

Community Partners will host three optional live office hour sessions to answer questions from applicants interested in applying to the LA Food Equity Fund grant program. Click below to register and submit your questions:

September 28th at 11:00 AM

October 10th at 11:00 AM

October 23rd at 11:00 AM

Please note that we cannot pre-review or provide specific feedback for individual applicant proposals or budgets. In order to ensure a fair and equitable process, we will only provide general responses directing applicants to the specific sections of the Grant Guidelines and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) made publicly available online if appropriate. We are updating our FAQs regularly in response to applicant questions.