Grant closed. Application deadline was July 1.

Prevention of wasted food and food rescue grants

Examples of foodThe Prevention of Wasted Food and Food Rescue Grants provide financial assistance for the development of programs that can help prevent food from being wasted and/or promote food rescue (food to people). 

Approximately $500,000 was available to organizations with project proposals that can have a measurable impact, through prevention or food rescue, on reducing the greenhouse gas impacts from food that is wasted.

See the request for proposals (RFP) for full details on eligibility, grant match amounts, and other information that will help applicants submit a proposal.

Closed: Application deadline was July 1.

  • Total funds: Approximately $500,000
  • Awards: Maximum $250,000; minimum $75,000
  • Match requirement: 25% (applicants must provide at least 25% match of the grant award)

Questions and answers

MPCA personnel are not authorized to discuss this RFP with applicants. Contact regarding this RFP with any MPCA personnel may result in disqualification.

Q1: Would purchasing a van be an eligible expense for the budget? The van would be used to pick and deliver food donations.
A2: Vehicles that increase the amount of food rescued would be eligible expenses. See RFP: eligible expenses - Equipment costs may be eligible on a case-by-case basis to prevent food from being wasted or increase capacity to store food that is being rescued. (page 4)

Q2: If a current standing building was planning to add an addition, could the grant support adding upgrades to an area to allow for ventilation and cooking space that would support this grant?
A2: The costs of general operating support such as routine overhead expenses unrelated to the proposed project is ineligible. However, equipment costs may be eligible on a case-by-case basis to prevent food from being wasted or increase capacity to store food that is being rescued.

Q3: If a space is currently being used for food donations would the grant support funds to build capacity by improving the kitchen space (for example adding ventilation, cove-based tiles, commercial stove)?
A3: The costs of general operating support such as routine overhead expenses unrelated to the proposed project is ineligible. However, equipment costs may be eligible on a case-by-case basis to prevent food from being wasted or increase capacity to store food that is being rescued.

Q4: Is your grant able to work in cooperation with schools? I know there are a lot of federal guidelines and restrictions with schools and their food. Especially after Michelle Obama's school lunch reform.
A4: Yes, see page 2 of the RFP under Eligible Applicants. 

Q5: Is your grant meant to deal with hot food like at my school or is it more based on non-perishable types of food? I have ideas/vision for the school hot lunches but I've been shot down by the head cooks because of their fear of federal guidelines. 
A5: See page 3 of the RFP under Eligible and ineligible projects. Prepared (hot food), non-perishable food and perishable food are all acceptable as long as the focus is on preventing food from going to waste or rescuing food for donation.

Q6: If your grant is able to help with my first 2 questions I would really like some guidance on where to start.
A6: The MPCA can’t provide guidance to applicants. Please review the RFP, webpage and Q&A for information on eligible projects, applicants, costs, grant amount, match requirements and evaluation criteria.

Q7: Would a project to purchase equipment (e.g., hardware such as monitors, tablets, and associated installation costs) that helps prevent food waste by minimizing the overproduction of food in a kitchen cafeteria settings be considered an eligible project?
A7: Yes; see page 3 of the RFP under Eligible and ineligible projects. The first bullet: "Projects that prevent food from being wasted in grocery stores, restaurants, catering operations, institutional kitchens, manufacturing companies and, other places that generate large amounts of food waste. Actions may include modernizing purchasing practices or production, changing handling practices to reduce food from being wasted (i.e. trimming, food set-out amount for buffets, etc.), identifying and modifying ordering practices that result in measurable decreases in food waste and using software programs to identify how to reduce food from going to waste and measure its impact (i.e., LeanPath, Phood, Winnow, etc.)"

Q8: Is there any chance of extending the deadline given the current situation with the pandemic?
A8: At this time, the MPCA does not plan on extending the grant deadline. The deadline has been extended to July 1, 2020.

Q9: I have a question about the 25% match by the grantee. Would costs we are already incurring, like salary for drivers picking up food rescue product and truck upkeep, be counted toward the match? Or do the matching funds have to be funds for a new project. If we applied, it would be to expand our food rescue program and the funds would be spend on materials like coolers, freezer blankets, technology.
A9: Section 5 of the RFP lists ineligible costs. Some of those include:

  • The cost of preparing the grant application
  • The cost of activities initiated and costs incurred prior to execution of a grant agreement
  • The cost of general operating support such as routine overhead expenses not related to the proposed project. (staffing specific to the project is eligible)
  • The purchase of real property (land, real estate, and buildings), or easements. However, if not incurred prior to execution of a grant agreement, such costs may count toward the required match percentage

Q10: Could the 25% match be achieved by volunteer hours at the federal equivalent $ value? Or could the match be achieved with discounts on produce from local farmers (who would otherwise till in the produce) to buy for local food shelves?
A10: Local direct and indirect matching support of at least a quarter (25%) of the total project budget is required. The match may be in the form of in-kind services or cash. A reasonable dollar-value must be assigned to all in-kind matches. The match cannot be met with services or funds derived from other grant sources administered by the MPCA.

Q11: Could a farmer apply for a grant to donate food that would have normally been purchased by an institution to a food shelf? I feel like so many farmers are losing a large amount of their market, it seems like it would be nice to figure out how to both support local farmers and get healthy food to those who need it.
A11: These grants are intended to prevent food from going to waste (see eligible costs under Section 5 of the RFP). If food would be purchased by an institution, whether it is going to a grocery store or a food shelf that would not be considered a waste and would be ineligible. If it is not going to humans for consumption but instead being managed (composted, or disposed) it would be eligible.

Q12: The application asks for a Board Resolution, if applicable; since our organization is guided by a board of directors is a resolution required for this grant? 
A12: Yes, since one exists. 

Q13: Can project expenses be incurred for 28 months, from 9/1/2020 to 12/31/2022?
A13: The end date will be determined by the MPCA during the drafting period of the grant agreements. However, agreements are typically approximately 2 years in length depending on the timing of the funding source.

Q14: Will this grant likely be offered next year? And if yes is there a way to be notified when the application goes live? 
A14: There is funding available for an additional RFP. For notification of all of the MPCA’s RFPs, go to the bottom of this page and sign up for GovDelivery notifications. 

Q15: Can the letter approving matching funds come from the Executive Director of an organization or does it have to come from the Board Chair?  The ED has authority to sign off on all invoices and payments. 
A15: Yes, it can come from the Executive Director. 

Q16: Are indirect costs (general operating/overhead) allowed? I see they are ineligible in terms of being "matching funds," but can they be part of what the grant pays for? If so, is there a cap on the indirect costs (i.e., only up to a certain percent)?
A16: No, indirect costs are ineligible. See section 5 of the RFP, “Eligible and ineligible costs" page 4).

Q17: Is the food our organization rescues an appropriate in-kind match for this grant?
A17: Overhead expenses are not an eligible match, so if the food is part of doing business it would not count as part of the match. Expansion of what items are collected would be an eligible project under this RFP. 

Q18: If the project is largely research based, can the environmental outcomes be "potential savings" if action is taken (outside of the project scope) on the new information found in the research?
A18: According to the work plan, the applicant is asked to create a table specific to your project using your best estimate of outcomes expected from your project. The applicant will be evaluated on how the project clearly demonstrates the project impact/outcomes related to prevention of wasted food or food rescue, anticipated environmental outcomes documented in the chart/format provided, and how clearly a plan is outlined on how this project will prevent food from being wasted and/or rescued.

Q19: Is there a specific tool you use or recommend for calculating greenhouse gas emissions in relation to food recovered or waste prevented? 
A19: US EPA’s WARM model is an open sourced, free peer-reviewed model that can be used:

Q20: We have created several graphs to show/describe our anticipated outcomes and related changes or data pertaining to our proposal. Will this be acceptable in place of the chart you've provided in the RFP? Or do we have to fill out the chart provided?
A20: Yes, the chart provided is part of the application and will need to be completed for evaluation purposes. You are welcome to submit additional information as well. 

Q21: Does the matching funds (in-kind or otherwise) have to be spent by the applicant? For instance, a food shelf receives this grant and is working with the county to do education and an efficiency analysis that will benefit the food shelf. Can this work done and paid for by the 3rd party (county) count as matching?
A21: No, the matching funds must come from the applicant directly. 

Q22: Does SCORE funding count as a "funds derived from other grant sources administered by the MPCA"?
A22: Yes, the SCORE funding is administered by the MPCA. 

Q23: We are debating incentivizing food donation by reducing food license fees for establishments capable of demonstrating they are actively participating in food donation. In the grant proposal it is stated that the grant recipients must match a percentage of the money awarded. I am wondering if the reduction in food licenses would qualify as an eligible cost we put forward. Another possibility is that would issue a percentage of their 2021 license be refunded if a business was properly demonstrating that they either donated food or reduced food waste.
A23: See question 10 above. The match may be in the form of in-kind services or cash. A reasonable dollar-value must be assigned to all in-kind matches



Food is the single largest component of waste going to landfills and incinerators at around 18% of what Minnesotans throw away.

While it varies by area, research agrees that 30-40% of the food in the United States goes uneaten. At the same time, one in eight Americans struggles to put enough food on the table.

Here in Minnesota, the average household in St. Paul wastes almost $100 worth of food every month.