How to Qualify for and Apply to the Local Food Fund






  • Sunset over wheat fieldThe Local Food Fund is offered through the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Agri-Food (OMAFRA) and is a three year initiative that launched in December 2013. $10 million per year has been set aside in grants for the program, with no maximum amount of funding per project.

    Local Food Fund Ontario Business Grants: Program Focus

    The Local Food Fund government grants Ontario program supports innovative local food projects that increase awareness of, access to and demand for local food in Ontario. This grant aims to increase the purchase of Ontario foods and contribute to increasing economic activity through the following project outcomes:

    • Increased awareness and celebration of local food
    • Influencing Ontarians to demand and choose more local food
    • Ensuring local food is identifiable and widely available
    • Helping Ontario’s agri-food sector deliver products that consumers want
    • Strengthening local food economies from farm to fork

    *“Local” meaning food produced or harvested in Ontario, and/or food and beverages made in Ontario if they include one or more ingredients produced or harvested in Ontario.

    Funding Available through this Business Grants Ontario Program

    Government funding available through the Local Food Fund will cover up to 50% of eligible project expenses, while additional Canadian business grants and loans can be stacked up to a maximum of 75%. There is also a 10% hold-back applied until all final reports are submitted and accepted.

    Note: in some exceptional cases of hardship, where a project demonstrates a close alignment with the Local Food and outcomes and could not be delivered without the increased funding rate, recipients may be able to receive up to 90% funding for eligible expenses

    Local Food Fund Government Grants for Small Business Ontario: Eligible Organizations

    Corporations, community or not-for-profit organizations, primary producers, food processors, distributors, food service, retail, municipalities, industry associations, economic development associations, First Nations, Metis and Inuit, and broader public sector organizations.

    Note: Research institutions interested in benefiting from the Local Food Fund must apply with a co-applicant from the list of eligible organizations above.

    Small Business Government Grants: Additional Eligibility Factors

    • Be able to provide financial funding to the project and have the knowledge and experience to complete the project.
    • Demonstrate 3 years of audited financial statements or proof of financial capability from a creditor
    • Located in Ontario
    • Businesses participating in the program must also have liability insurance

    Government Small Business Grants Ontario: Project Eligibility

    In order to qualify for the Local Food Fund Ontario business grants, a project should meet the following eligibility criteria.

    Local Food Fund projects should fit under one of the listed project categories:

    • Regional and Local Food Networks
    • Enhanced Technology, Capacity Minor Capital
    • Research and Best Practices
    • Marketing, Promotion and Education

    Project must be Innovative- the application of new ideas (new processes, products, services and methods of delivery) to solve problems and address challenges and take advantage of new opportunities. This could include:

    • New and novel approaches to the province or sector
    • Potential for significant benefits compared to current practice
    • Increased risk due to higher level of uncertainty
    • Knowledge transfer to share results broadly throughout Ontario
    • Will allow Ontario to move ahead significantly in the use of local foods
    • Strong Economy
    • Health Communities
    • Fair & Just Society
    • Highly Skilled Workforce
    • Competitive Business Environment
    • Vibrant and Strong Communities
    • Supports increased awareness of local food
    • Supports demand for and access to local food
    • Supports two or more of the Local Food Fund program outcomes
    • Includes performance measures to assess outcomes
    • Demonstrates project management experience – two or more projects of a similar scope or scale
    • Demonstrates strong collaborative processes and strategic alliances
    • Have a clear plan to continue the project objectives past the funding of the Local Food Fund

    Local Food Fund projects should align with two or more provincial priorities:

    • Strong Economy
    • Health Communities
    • Fair & Just Society
    • Highly Skilled Workforce
    • Competitive Business Environment
    • Vibrant and Strong Communities

    Additional business grants Ontario priorities:

    • Supports increased awareness of local food
    • Supports demand for and access to local food
    • Supports two or more of the Local Food Fund program outcomes
    • Includes performance measures to assess outcomes
    • Demonstrates project management experience – two or more projects of a similar scope or scale
    • Demonstrates strong collaborative processes and strategic alliances
    • Have a clear plan to continue the project objectives past the funding of the Local Food Fund

    Local Food Fund Ontario Small Business Grants: Funding Timeline

    It will then take approximately 45 business days from the intake deadline for a panel to meet and review application. Projects cannot start until after they have received approval. If approved the maximum costs of the project cannot be increased nor the timeframe of the project extended.

    Deadlines to submit applications:

    • December 31, 2013
    • February 28, 2014
    • April 30, 2014
    • June 30, 2014
    • August 31, 2104
    • October 31, 2014
    • January 16, 2015

    Local Food Fund Grants for Businesses in Ontario: Eligible Project Expenses

    Eligible costs have to be incurred in the province of Ontario and paid by the applicant between the start date and end date of the project.

    Actual costs incurred and paid to a third party, which otherwise would not be incurred include:

    Project Management, such as:

    ·         Consultant fees

    ·         Business planning development

    ·         Professional fees such as legal, architectural, accounting, etc. that are specifically related to the project.

    ·         Minor capital including:

    ·         Sub-contractor fees

    ·         Equipment (e.g. reefer units, cold-storage, washing), structural modifications to accommodate the installation of equipment

    ·         Architectural design work, engineering work (studies, environmental assessments, etc.)

    ·         Renovations and retrofits to existing structures (materials or supplies and labour to renovate existing space

    ·         Technology upgrades such as computer hardware, software, and network cables

    ·         Production expansion (e.g. a new product) to increase local food sales to local markets.

    As well as:

    ·         Training

    ·         Marketing or promotions costs

    ·         Travel costs associated with project development and implementation, subject to Provincial directives

    ·         Studies and research

    ·         Administrative costs directly related to project implementation

    ·         Wages for new hires to work 100 per cent on project related activities.

    Local Food Fund Small Business Grants Ontario: Reimbursement

    Payments are based on the receipt of paid eligible invoices along with proof of payments. Claim submission as frequent as desired. There is Minimum claim of $200 unless it is the final payment of the project. There is a 10% hold-back applied until all final reports are submitted and accepted. All claims must be made by March 31st each following the year they are incurred and paid. Except last year: All approved projects must be completed by December 15th, 2015 with claims and final reports by February 15th, 2015.

    Get-StartedProgram-Overview

    Connect with Mentor Works Small Business Grants Canada

    To contact Mentor Works directly to help with your Local Food Fund leave us additional information on our Local Food Fund program page.  You can find other invaluable business tips and financing options by following us on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Or you can subscribe to our RSS Feed to receive the latest information and articles of interest to your business.

About The Author

Liam Allum

Liam is a Business Funding Analyst with Mentor Works Ltd. He has an Honours Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Wilfrid Laurier University, with a concentration in Marketing. Liam works with business owners and decision makers in SMES to create funding plans to support business expansion, capital investment, hiring & training, and R&D initiatives.

  • Susanne

    We are a bed and breakfast that prides ourselves in using as many local farm fresh ingredients as possible to our guests. We also try our best to encourage our guests to buy the local products we serve such as milk, eggs, jams..etc. We do this because we feel strongly about the benefits of supporting local farmers but we do not have the funds to take this one step further (ie purchasing a cooler to keep in our dining area and creating signage to help encourage sales)
    I am wondering if this would qualify for the local food funding grant?

    • http://www.mentorworks.ca/ Ryan Weaver

      Hi Susanne,
      It doesn’t sound like you would qualify, as the Local Food Fund is for innovative projects taken on by agriculture and agri-food businesses. I sent you a quick email including some clarification on the program. But please keep your eye out for new hiring programs in the spring by signing up for our weekly e-newsletter!

  • John

    I’m working with a local grocer in developing a proposal to fund a business case/strategy for a local food network project. Rather than submitting as his current company, he wants to form a new corporation to drive the project. As a new corporation he will not have three years worth of audited statements. Is there a way to address this that would enable the new company to be eligible for a Local Food Fund grant?
    Thanks

    • http://www.mentorworks.ca/ Ryan Weaver

      Hello John,
      Thank you for stopping by! We have funding analysts that have submitted numerous applications for LLF -I am sure they would be able to help if you do in fact have a relevant project. If you are considering working with us I would suggest attending a workshop or webinar, you can find a list of events here: http://www.mentorworks.ca/events/