The Greenbelt Fund is an Ontario not-for-profit (NFP) organization which works with a variety of food producers, processors, and government organizations to increase the amount of locally grown and processed food options available to Ontario consumers. In doing so, Greenbelt Fund has provided Ontario government funding to over 111 projects which has assisted in more than $100 million of local food industry growth. Through Greenbelt Fund’s Local Food Investment Fund, Ontario government grants will be provided to a range of businesses and public-sector organizations who engage in projects that increase market access and increase the amount of food served in public sector institutions.
Local Food Investment Fund Ontario Government Funding Program Details
Greenbelt Fund’s Local Food Investment Fund provides Ontario businesses and NFPs with grant funding worth up to 50% of eligible project costs. In exceptional circumstances, non-profit projects that address most or all of Greenbelt Fund’s focus priorities may be eligible for up to 90% of government grant funding to cover project expenses, although for-profit projects are limited to a maximum of 50% funding coverage. There is no maximum amount which public or private organizations can receive from the funding, and all eligible expenses will be reviewed to determine how much grant funding can be awarded. The Local Food Investment Fund can be accessed by a wide variety of NFPs and for-profit businesses, offering funding to a variety of SME’s and non-profit organizations.
Greenbelt’s Local Food Investment Fund has been divided into three unique streams. Each stream is specifically designed to meet the needs of the local industry by developing initiatives for the broader public sector, increasing market access for producers and processors, and encouraging local food literacy.
Stream 1: Broader Public Sector
Broader public sector institutions provide a growing market opportunity for Ontario food producers and processors. An estimated $745 million in annual sales are made to Ontario’s broader public sector, which includes long-term care facilities, public schools and post-secondary education facilities, hospitals, and daycares. To satisfy this market demand, local Ontario food organizations should increase their capacity to fulfil the public sector and food services’ need. Projects applicable for this stream include:
- Development of strategies which would increase the public sector and food services’ demand for local products;
- Implementing food purchasing systems which identify where the food was produced and processed so that local products can be promoted to customers;
- Revising institutional food ordering to receive and track the amount of local food purchased;
- Enhancing or upgrading equipment to enable the delivery of local products throughout the year; and
- Providing resources and training to increase food service staff’s knowledge of how to promote local food to the broader public sector.
Stream 2: Market Access
In the last decade, consumer preferences towards purchasing local food has grown considerably. Now, more than ever, food retailers and food service operators are being asked to provide increased options for the shifting consumer demand. Market Access seeks to assist this transition by increasing food producers and processors’ access to regional food aggregators (food hubs), encouraging strong value chain relationships, and by increasing knowledge of new or growing markets. Applicable projects include:
- Conducting market research to better understand consumer preferences;
- Development of value-added food processing techniques, such as washing, canning, freezing or dehydrating;
- Development of training and education materials that support local food businesses’ market entry;
- Business planning and market research that leads to greater value chain relationships between local food processors, food hubs, and aggregators.
Stream 3: Local Food Literacy
Increased demand for fresh local food has been, in part, due to the overwhelming success of food literacy programs. Public education is provided by a number of Ontario organizations such as Foodland Ontario and at Ontario farmers’ markets. Continuing these types of consumer-focussed campaigns is critical to the success of Ontario’s agri-food industry, the Greenbelt Fund will provide funding for projects that increase the awareness and understanding of how to use more local food, in addition to projects which increase the development and communication of value chains. Applicable projects include:
- Development and production of education/training materials, promotional materials, and sales resources;
- Organization of local food competitions or events that promote the benefits of consuming locally-grown food; and
- Delivering local food education sessions or training (including providing classes, in-facility education, or farm visits).
Public and Private Organizations Eligible for Greenbelt Fund Ontario Government Grants
Organizations deemed to be eligible include those which:
- Are public or private-sector organizations;
- Are willing to enter a formal written agreement with the Greenbelt Fund;
- Have sufficient ability to execute the proposed project; and
- Are able to contribute at least half of total project expenses in cash contributions.
Apply for Greenbelt Fund’s Local Food Investment Fund
There are no upcoming deadlines currently announced for this program. Please contact a Government Funding Planner to explore when a new intake may open or discuss other grant opportunities.
Posted: December 8, 2015 by Jeff Shepherd. Updated: May 2, 2018 by Jeff Shepherd.