Nutrition Services Division Information Alert
To: School Nutrition Program Sponsors, Child and Adult Care Food Program Non-Profit Centers
Attention: Food Service Directors, Business Officials, Facilities Directors
|Date: November 2009|
|Subject: Funding Opportunity – United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Community Facilities Program|
This Information Alert (IA) informs school districts and non-profit agencies of a federal program designed to provide funding for community projects under the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Rural Development Facilities Program. The program, referred to as the Community Facilities (CF) program, provides loans and grants for construction, acquisition, or renovation of community facilities, which can include schools.
This year, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) added funds to the CF program. Specifically, as of August 26, 2009, over $930 million in ARRA loan funds and over $31 million in ARRA grant funds for CF were still available. The USDA is awarding the ARRA money on a project-by-project basis, and the funds must be spent by August 31, 2010. The funds available for CF through the ARRA present a great opportunity for local education agencies, non-profit organizations, and cooperatives to obtain food service equipment or facilities that will support their work and benefit their communities.
Who is eligible to apply for CF loans and grants?
Local governments, non-profit organizations, federally-recognized Indian tribes, and school districts are all eligible to apply for funds to finance “essential community facilities.” Applications must be for projects in rural communities with a population of 20,000 or less.
What is a CF? How does this program relate to agriculture?
A CF is a public place in which the community benefits as a whole rather than a private, commercial endeavor. To determine that a facility under the control of a non-profit organization will carry out a public purpose and continue to serve rural communities, the USDA looks for strong ties between the organization and the rural area in which it is located. Such ties might be evidenced by a local membership base or funding from the local government or community.
Newer renovated facilities can improve access to high-quality and affordable local foods and provide opportunities for local food producers in those communities to develop and grow their businesses. For example, USDA’s Rural Development loan money could be used to set up cold storage as part of a larger effort to retrofit the school cafeteria to buy produce directly from farmers and increase cooking capacity for school lunch.
How much grant and/or loan funds may I be eligible for?
Loan amounts vary widely depending on the project, but the average CF direct loan in Fiscal Year 2008 was $665,229. Grants, which are available for projects in communities with smaller populations and lower median household incomes, are usually highly leveraged with other loan and grant awards.
How do I apply?
The State or local USDA Rural Development Office files and processes all applications for CF projects. These offices put out a request for applications and make awards once a year for a 12 month funding cycle. The State of California contact information is listed below:
Anita Lopez, Community Program State Office Specialist
For more detailed information about eligibility, loan rates and terms, and security requirements, you can also visit the USDA Web page at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/rhs/cf/cp.htm.