Projects Competitive Grants Program, or USDA CFPCGP, supports community efforts to address food system issues. Over the last 15 years the program has funded diverse community-based projects across the nation, including youth education programs on healthy eating, farm-to-table initiatives, and community food assessments. In this initial study, we endeavor to understand the contribution of the CFPCGP in building a community's capacity to address its own challenges for food security. To analyze funding patterns of the CFPCGP program between 1996 and 2012, we used the websites of the CFPCGP and the WhyHunger Network to identify 420 competitive grant applications successfully funded by this grant program. In this paper we present findings on the geographical distribution of successful applicants and the common objectives of these projects. All but three states had successful applicants. We found considerably uneven (disproportionate to population) distribution of successful grantees among 50 states and U.S. territories, as well as among the four USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) regions (Northeast, North Central, South, and West). Organizations and cities receiving multiple grants tended to be located in the metropolitan Northeast or West. Training, education, and gardening are common activities proposed in the funded projects. "Low-income" residents in the community are identified as the target group for nearly one third of the funded grants. We discuss key implications of our findings and offer suggestions for building the capacity of limited-resource communities and organizations to successfully compete for CFPCGP funding.

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Published in Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, v. 5, no. 3.

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This project was supported by a grant from the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.