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The purpose of the rural food sustainability grant program is to support the expansion of sustainable grocery service, access to food, and/or development and expansion of food co-ops in rural areas. Food co-ops are centralized facilities or nonprofits that play a crucial role in aggregating, storing, processing, and distributing food to consumers, retailers, institutions, or other markets. This grant program aims to address specific challenges faced by rural communities related to food access, economic development, and sustainability.  


The Department of Commerce leads the efforts to attract, retain, and expand wealth and improve the quality of life for the people of North Dakota. 

Program Objectives

  • Strengthen local and regional food systems by facilitating the efficient movement of healthy, quality foods within rural areas.   
  • Improve the quality and safety of existing grocery supply.  
  • Encourage partnerships and collaboration between local organizations, businesses, and government entities.  
  • Support innovative approaches to address unique challenges faced by rural areas in sustainable food supply and delivery.  
  • Foster community development and revitalization efforts in rural regions.  
  • Provide collaboration between food supply and community entities such as restaurants, schools or other entities which purchase grocery products which provides positive economic impacts for the community/region. 

The program will be broken into two components:  

Component one will be soliciting letters of intent (LOI) from eligible entities. Awards will be made to conduct feasibility studies to assess the viability of potential projects or initiatives aimed at increasing food accessibility and sustainability in rural areas.  

Component two will award grant dollars to support the creation or expansion projects or initiatives that aim to increase food accessibility and sustainability for entities that have developed profit loss statements and backup materials to show the expansion of the project will be sustainable.  

Eligible Entities 

Nonprofits, City, County, Economic Development organization (JDA, regional Councils, EDC, CVB) and local tribal entities   

Available Funding  

  • Component 1: Up to $20,000 per community  
  • Component 2: Up to $300,000 per community   

Rural shall be defined as any community or region, based on the application, with a population of less than 10,000.   

Matching Requirements

Matching funds are encouraged but not required.  

This grant will not fund regular maintenance of equipment or facilities, projects that do not provide increased affordability and availability of food products, or applications that do not have sustainable profit/loss or business plans which provides long term sustainability for food access. 

2023 Timeline – Component 1 

  • Applications open – Friday, September 8 - 1:00 p.m. CST  
  • Applications close – Friday, October 13 - 5:00 p.m. CST - application period is now closed!
  • Award  - October 24, 2023 

The North Dakota Department of Commerce announced that six recipients were awarded $20,000 to complete feasibility studies as part of the Rural Food Sustainability Grant's Component 1.

Recipients include:

  • City of Milnor 
  • Pembina County JDA 
  • Enhancing and Strengthening North Dakota Nonprofits & Communities (DBA Strengthen ND)
  • City of Butte 
  • Hazelton Development Corporation (HDC) 
  • Economic Development at City of Casselton 

2024 Timeline – Component 2 

  • Applications open – Monday, January 15  
  • Applications close – Friday, February 9 
  • Award  -  Tuesday, February 27 

Project Timeline

All projects must be completed within 18 months of award notification.  

Application period is now closed!

All application materials must be received at the Department of Commerce office no later than 5:00 pm CT Friday, October 13.  Applications received after the deadline will not be considered by the review committee. 

For more information contact Emma Cook at