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Rural Development Community Facilities Program

Nutrition Services Division Management Bulletin

Purpose: Beneficial Information

To: Child Nutrition Program Sponsors

Number: USDA-CNP-02-2012

Attention: Food Service/Program Directors

Date: October 2012

Subject: Rural Development Community Facilities Program

Reference: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, Policy Memo SP 01-2012; CACFP 01-2012; SFSP 01-2012

This Management Bulletin (MB) announces the availability of loans and grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Development Community Facilities (CF) program. Sponsors in rural areas and towns with populations of up to 20,000 should consider applying for this unique opportunity to upgrade their community’s child nutrition facilities and purchase equipment that could improve their students’ access to healthy, locally, or regionally grown products. Sponsors can download the USDA’s Policy Memo on this subject at [Note: the preceding web address is no longer valid].


The CF program supports the success of rural communities (up to 20,000 residents) by providing loans and grants for the construction, acquisition, or renovation of community facilities or for the purchase of equipment for community projects. These facilities can improve access to high-quality and affordable local foods.

Specific to the child nutrition programs, sponsors who participate in the School Nutrition Programs (SNP), Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), and Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) could use these CF program funds to improve public buildings, such as school food service facilities, Head Start centers, pre-schools, adult day care centers, child day care centers, and food preparation centers.

Questions and Answers

Q1. Who is eligible to apply for CF program loans and grants?

A1. Local governments, non-profit organizations, and state and federally-recognized Indian tribes in rural areas (areas with no more than 20,000 residents) are all eligible to apply for funds to finance essential community facilities.

Q2. What is a Community Facility?

A2. A CF is a facility under the control of a non-profit organization that carries out a public purpose and, for the purposes of this grant, serves rural communities. That is, the facility is for the benefit of the community as a whole rather than for a private, commercial use.

Specifically, the USDA is awarding grants or loaning funds to organizations whose facilities have strong ties to the community it serves. These ties might be a local board membership base, funding from the local government or community, etc.

Q3. What other sorts of qualities does the USDA look for in an applicant when awarding grants or loaning funds?

A3. The USDA finances many types of facilities and equipment that facilitates the distribution and marketing of local foods. Projects that support local and regional food systems that may qualify for CF program funding include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Farmers’ markets
  • Community kitchens and food distribution centers
  • Facilities and equipment used by not-for-profit food distribution networks
  • School cafeteria renovations and equipment
  • Community food banks

Q4. How have communities used CF program funds in the past?

A4. In the past, communities have used CF program funds to renovate cafeterias and purchase food preparation and storage equipment. For example, a County Board of Education Food Service Division that provides breakfast and lunch programs for public school students used CF program funds to improve a warehouse by adding refrigeration units for fresh fruits and vegetables, which allowed them to purchase larger quantities, expand choices, and increase the amount of locally grown food served in their schools. One school used a CF program loan to expand their campus to include an organic vegetable garden and fruit orchards that provide fresh produce for the after school snack program. Another school purchased a convection food steamer to prepare locally grown vegetables with CF program funds.

Q5. What amount can facilities expect to receive in either loans or grants?

A5. Loan amounts vary widely depending on the project. 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.

Sponsors operating in small, low-income communities may be eligible for a higher percentage of grant funding or loans.

Q6. How can sponsors apply?

A6. To apply for a grant or loan or to find out more information on how to proceed, sponsors can contact their local USDA Rural Development Office. Office locations are listed on the USDA’s Rural Development Web page at

For more detailed information about eligibility, loan rates and terms, and security requirements, sponsors can also visit the USDA’s Rural Development Community Facilities Loan and Grants Web page at

Please note that grant funds are limited. The local USDA Rural Development Office files, processes, and competitively scores all applications for CF projects and accepts them on an ongoing basis, depending on the availability of funds. Therefore, the USDA encourages sponsors to consider the affordable low-interest, fixed-rate loans that the CF program offers.

Contact Information

If you have any questions regarding this MB, please contact the appropriate NSD staff member for your agency. Specifically:

School Nutrition Programs

You may find a list of contact information for your SNP specialist in the Download Forms section of the Child Nutrition Information and Payment System (CNIPS).

Child and Adult Care Food Program

You may find a list of contact information for your CACFP specialist in the Download Forms section, Form ID CACFP 01. You can also contact the CACFP Unit Office Technician, by phone at 916-324-6153 or by e-mail at, to be directed to your CACFP Specialist.

Summer Food Service Program

You may refer to Form SFSP 01 in the Download Forms section of the CNIPS for a list of SFSP specialists. You may also contact the SFSP Unit Office Technician by phone at 916-324-6153 to be directed to your county specialist.

Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Monday, February 10, 2020
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