February 12th, 2016
The Greenbelt Fund is a fantastic opportunity for food processors, producers, and government organizations that work to provide more locally grown and processed food for consumers in Ontario. They work through public institutions, foodservice markets, and retail channels to ensure the best quality goods from qualified sources.
Every $1 granted by this fund increases local food sales by $13. That’s a serious improvement! There is an increase over $1,000,000 in local food sales for every grant they approve. Their goal is to permanently raise the quantity of local food we consume in Ontario.
They use innovative grants, education, outreach, advanced policy, and networking initiatives to help overhaul and improve the existing food system. Their Local Food Investment Fund provides $6 million of funding for food processors and public-sector organizations to thrive in local markets through three different funding streams.
Ontario’s agri-food industry requires efficient and cost-effective ways to deliver more of their high quality goods to Ontario’s diverse and upper-echelon markets. The Market Access Grant Stream provides funding to find and capitalize on new or developing market opportunities.
This stream wants to increase distribution capacity, co-packing, local food aggregation, and access to value-added and processing services for Ontario farmers while helping to ensure that Ontario retailers, foodservice operators, and wholesalers purchase Ontario food products through local food aggregators and local processors.
Projects could include conducting market research, improving the market readiness of Ontario-grown or raised products by increasing capacity, developing training and education resources for food businesses, and conducting market assessments, amongst other strategies.
Some people think that grocery stores or local markets are the only places for farmers to ply their wares. This couldn’t be further than the truth: there is an estimated $745 million in food and beverage sales sold to municipal day-cares, universities, school boards, collages, hospitals, and long-term care facilities by public sector institutions and contract caterers.
This stream wants to raise the quantities of Ontario food products purchased in Ontario’s many different public sectors. Hospital foodservices, municipal opportunities, and different school boards are all opportunities that are ripe for the picking.
One of the biggest problems here is a lack of awareness. Many contributors from across the agri-food sector simply don’t know about the opportunity available to them in these foodservice industries. It’s time to raise awareness on both sides to help increase the purchase of local products.
This might include projects to produce and serve local goods year-round, making organizational changes in companies to highlight the importance of local food, and removing barriers faced by food processors to enter the market, for instance.
- Local Food Literacy Grant Stream
One of the most important features of raising the amount of interaction between producers and consumers is raising awareness across the board. This includes making sure the average consumer realizes the importance of agriculture and agri-food not only to Ontario’s economy, but Canada’s as well.
Raising awareness is a key first step, but awareness does not happen accidentally. It requires the proper communication on the part of retailers, foodservice operators, wholesalers, and consumers.
This stream encourages projects focussing on local food events, competitions, or other educational/training materials as promotional videos or point-of-sale materials. It also challenges stakeholders to deal with barriers they face while solidifying relationships along the value chain.
For-profit businesses in Ontario can claim up to 50% coverage from grant funding for eligible projects. This includes farmers, food processors, food service workers, retail, and distributors. Not-for-profit businesses receive up to 50% of coverage as well. This includes industry associations, municipalities, and economic development associations. In rare cases, not-for-profit organizations can receive up to 90% of coverage.
The next submission deadline is March 30th, 2016, so the time to act now. Get in touch with our team at INAC Services to receive professional assistance preparing your application for any of the funding streams in the Greenbelt Fund. Together we can help keep Ontario local!