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13 Best Grants to Start a Food Pantry [Steps to Apply]

One thing you have to understand is that funding for food pantries tends to come from a wide range of sources, such as government and nonprofit organizations.

Most often, anyone looking to start or run a food pantry is advised to examine nonprofit grants available for such programs. Truth be told, no two food box programs are the same.

Have it in mind that well-to-do pantries represent a community’s distinctive response to the issue of hunger as it exists within its boundaries. So regardless of the sort of pantry you want to start, below are the top grants to look into.

Available Grants to Start a Food Pantry

  1. ELCA World Hunger Domestic Hunger Grants

ELCA World Hunger Domestic Hunger Grants accompany congregations and their partners throughout the United States and Caribbean as they draw on the strengths of communities to address local issues such as:

Food security, clean water, housing, job access, human rights, policy change, leadership development, and more. Together, these ministries are part of a comprehensive approach to breaking the cycle of poverty and hunger — for good.

Many holistic ministries start with food — and then address the broader challenges that lie at the root of hunger and poverty.

Holistic ministries may address these root causes by creating opportunities for people facing hunger to advocate for meaningful policy change, or they may organize the people most affected for collective community action.

  • At a minimum, ELCA World Hunger Domestic Hunger Grant applicants must be:
    • a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization;
    • able to demonstrate a strong, recognized, and established relationship with a congregation, ministry, or institution of the ELCA;
    • able to demonstrate a strong, recognized, and established relationship with the community in which the work will take place; and
    • actively engaged in the work described in the application.
  • Given the priority areas described above, ELCA World Hunger especially seeks to support ministries that:
    • address the root causes of hunger in communities;
    • demonstrate strong commitment to diversity and inclusion in leadership and decision-making, including direct engagement of people who themselves are experiencing hunger or poverty;
    • create or foster opportunities for advocacy toward systemic change;
    • leverage local assets through partnerships with other local ministries and organizations and invest their own time and financial resources in the ministry.
  • As a ministry of the church, ELCA World Hunger will prioritize ELCA congregations in the award process.
  • Organizations that discriminate among guests and neighbors, require participation in faith-related activities as a prerequisite for services, or apply as “pass-through” organizations will not be considered for funding.
 What you need to apply
  • To apply, you will need to answer the following questions:
    • What systemic issues are being addressed in the communities served?
    • How does your organization or project plan to address systemic issues in the communities served?
    • Who are the participants?
    • What is the total amount you are requesting?
    • Is this a single-year or a multi-year request?
    • Is this request part of an existing organization or ministry or a new ministry or organization?
    • Is the organization or ministry directly implementing or is it in partnership with other entities?
 If invited to complete a full grant application in ELCA GrantMaker, you will need:
  • Your organization’s contact and tax identification information. If awarded a grant, you will be required to provide a current letter verifying your organization’s 501(c)(3) status.
  • The current budget for your organization and the projected budget for the ministry.
  • A personal testimonial from a stakeholder in your project or ministry who has lived experience of poverty or hunger, describing the ministry’s impact and importance for them and/or their community – in their own words.
  • A letter of support, from rostered or lay leadership of an ELCA congregation, that illustrates the relationship between the ministry and the congregation. How does the ministry’s relationship with the congregation nurture life-changing relationships with God, one another, and the world? If the applicant is an ELCA congregation itself, the letter can come from its leadership.

Please note that all documents included with your application must be PDFs.

  1. USDA Community Food Projects (CFP) Grant

Community Food Projects (CFP) Grant is a competitive grants program that is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

Grants are intended to help eligible nonprofits, tribal organizations, and food program service providers in need of a one-time infusion of federal assistance for projects that promote self-sufficiency and food security in low-income communities. These one-time grants require a dollar-for-dollar (1:1) match in resources, which can include in-kind support.

Examples of Community Food Projects (CFP) projects include, but are not limited to: community food assessments, GIS analysis, community gardens with market stands, value chain projects, food hubs, farmers markets, farm-to-institution projects, and marketing and consumer cooperatives.


Public food program service providers, tribal organizations, and private nonprofit entities meeting the following requirements are eligible to receive a Community Food Projects (CFP) grant:

  • Experience in the area(s) of:
    • Community food work, including the provision of food to people in low-income communities and the development of new markets in low-income communities for agricultural producers, particularly small and medium-sized farms.
    • Job training and business development activities for food-related activities in low-income communities.
    • Reducing food insecurity in the community through efforts such as distributing food, improving access to services, or coordinating services and programs.
  • Competency to implement a project, provide fiscal accountability, collect data, and prepare reports and other necessary documentation.
  • Willingness to share information with researchers, evaluators, practitioners, and other interested parties, including a plan for dissemination of results.
  • Agree to work with local partners to achieve at least one of the congressionally designated hunger-free communities’ goals, such as having a community-based emergency food delivery network, conducting a community food insecurity assessment, participating in a federal nutrition program, developing food resources such as community gardens, farmers markets, and food cooperatives, having a community nutrition education program, and having a gleaning program, among others.
How to Apply

NIFA typically releases a Request for Applications (RFA) once a year. Applicants are usually given one month to complete and submit their applications to NIFA, using the online system

Proposals are then reviewed by a panel of experts, including producers, consumers, educators, and extension specialists, and evaluated for relevance, applicant experience, and overall impact of the project.

Interested applicants can find out more about program and application requirements, future RFAs, and how to apply for funding via USDA’s CFP program page.

  1. Presbyterian Hunger Program Grants

Every year, the Presbyterian Hunger Program provides grants to NGOs that implement projects/programs addressing hunger in any part of the world.

Assistance includes long-term development grants addressing the hunger issue through a multi-faceted approach leading to the empowerment of the people.

There is also a Direct Relief grant for emergency support. Proposals are accepted around the year, but NGOs are advised to send them weeks before the two deadline dates: 31 May and 31 October.

How to Apply

To apply for this grant, you are expected to send your applications to this address:

Presbyterian Foundation

200 E. Twelfth Street

Jeffersonville, Indiana 47130 USA

  1. The Walmart Foundation – Hunger Relief Grants

In addition to our contributions to Feeding America’s network of local food banks, the Walmart Foundation provides philanthropic grants to many organizations to help them reach underserved communities (for example, a grant to the American Heart Association has helped community-based food entrepreneurs in Atlanta and Chicago grow over 186,000 pounds of fresh food in low-income communities).

To create a stronger voice for healthier food and food security, as well as accelerate the exchange of best practices among groups focused on healthy food access, the Walmart Foundation created a community of practice that includes nearly 50 organizations, including leading NGOs.

The Walmart Foundation also advocates directly at the local and national levels for positive change. Local Community grants range from a minimum of $250 to a maximum of $5,000.

Eligibility Criteria

Organizations applying must meet one of the following criteria:

An organization holding a current tax-exempt status as a public charity under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, listed on the IRS Master File and conducting activities within the United States, classified as a public charity under Section 509(a)(1), (2) or (3) (Types I or II); and CyberGrants FrontDoor verified.

A recognized government entity: state, county, or city agency, including law enforcement or fire departments, that is requesting funds exclusively for public purposes and CyberGrants FrontDoor verified.

A K-12 public or nonprofit private school, charter school, community/junior college, state/private college or university; or a church or other faith-based organization with a proposed project that benefits the community at large, such as food pantries, soup kitchens, and clothing closets and CyberGrants FrontDoor verified.

Note: Non-charities, including organizations, recognized as 501(c)(4)s, (c)(6)s, and (c)(19)s like homeowner’s associations, civic leagues, or volunteer fire companies, are not eligible at this time.

  1. Seattle Foundation – Neighbor to Neighbor Grants

Neighbour to Neighbor (N2N) supports grassroots efforts that increase the engagement, power, and influence of community members affected by poverty and racial disparities.

Priority is on efforts led by people from under-invested communities such as communities of color, black, indigenous, immigrant/refugee, and low-income communities.

Neighbor to Neighbor (N2N) grants are up to a maximum of $7,500. N2N does not typically fund direct social services, ongoing programming, or sponsorship of cultural festivals or one-time events.

Neighbour to Neighbor (N2N) awards grants quarterly. The deadlines for submitting applications are January 30, April 30, July 30, and October 30. Organizations are eligible for funding once per calendar year.

Funding Eligibility and Criteria Required to apply:

Charitable status: Applicant organization must have 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt status or be fiscally sponsored by another tax-exempt organization.

Based on the following geographic areas: Applicant organization must be led by communities in South Seattle, White Center, Kent, or SeaTac/Tukwila. South Seattle is defined as areas south of Interstate 90, west of Lake Washington, east of Puget Sound, and north of Seattle’s southern border.

White Center is defined as the unincorporated area between the cities of Burien and Seattle. Kent is defined by its designated city borders, as is SeaTac and Tukwila.

Equity focus: The applicant’s mission and work must demonstrate a clear purpose to address economic and racial disparities.

Small budget: Applicant must have a small budget, generally under $200K, and not have received significant grants or contracts.

Neighbour to Neighbor (N2N) is particularly interested in supporting organizations that have limited access to traditional sources of funding.

Repeat funding: Prior Neighbor to Neighbor (N2N) grantees are welcome to reapply. Grantees may only apply once a year and must have submitted a final report for past funding before applying again.

Application Instructions

Step One: Please contact N2N’s Program Consultant, Aileen Balahadia at 206.250.4299 or via email,, to ensure that you are a strong fit for our current funding strategies.

Step Two: If eligible, the second step is to create a login and complete the Neighbor to Neighbor (N2N) application. Technical assistance is available to complete the application.

As appropriate, staff may assist you in planning your project, identifying a fiscal sponsor, identifying potential partners, reviewing and commenting on drafts of your proposal, and /or connecting you to other available resources in the community.

Step Three: Once your application is completed, request a Draft review from Neighbor to Neighbor (N2N) before you officially submit and before the deadline.

Step Four: Apply the online system by the quarterly deadlines.

Once your proposal has been received, we make every effort to schedule a meeting with members of your organization and our advisory committee to learn more about your work, answer questions, and discuss your request during a Site Visit.

  1. The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation – Basic Human Needs Grants

The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation is a non-profit philanthropist organization founded by businessman Harry Weinberg (1908–1990) and his wife Jeanette Weinberg.

With total assets of approximately $2 billion, the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation is one of the largest private charitable foundations in the U.S. funding nonprofits that provide direct services to the economically disadvantaged and vulnerable.

Most of the Foundation’s approximately $100 million annual grantmaking is for the benefit of disadvantaged people primarily located in Maryland, Hawaii, Northeastern Pennsylvania, Israel, and the Former Soviet Union.

These grants are focused on meeting basic needs such as shelter, nutrition, health, and socialization and on enhancing an individual’s ability to meet those needs. Within that focus, emphasis is placed on older adults and the Jewish community. 

The Foundation is committed beyond the Jewish community with at least 40% of all grants going to the community at large.

Grant Eligibility

To determine if your organization is eligible for a grant from The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, you are required to complete the brief questionnaire on their website

How to Apply

Please note: Whether you plan to apply through the Regular Grants Process or the Small Grants Program, you will begin your application via the Foundation’s online application portal.

If your organization is based in Baltimore City and has an operating budget of $500,000 or below, it may be best for you to apply through the Baltimore City Community Grants Program. This program has a separate application process.

Grant applicants will either be invited to submit a full grant proposal or will receive notification that the LOI was declined. If your LOI has been submitted, reviewed, and approved, you will receive a link to the full grant application.

  1. The IKEA Foundation

The IKEA Foundation provides funding for projects that support refugees and other marginalized communities, with a focus on improving access to education, healthcare, and sustainable livelihoods (feeding et al). Grants are available for both individuals and organizations and can range from a few thousand dollars to millions of dollars.


To be eligible for the IKEA Foundation grant, your project should meet the following criteria:

  • Impact: Your project should be able to make a significant positive impact on the lives of refugees and displaced people. Your project should focus on addressing a specific challenge or need faced by refugees, such as education, healthcare, or economic empowerment.
  • Innovation: Your project should have an innovative approach to addressing the challenge or need faced by refugees. It should offer a new or unique solution that can be replicated or scaled to benefit other communities.
  • Sustainability: Your project should have a plan for sustainability beyond the grant period. This means that it should be able to continue operating and providing benefits to refugees after the grant has ended.
  • Alignment with IKEA Foundation values: Your project should align with the values of the IKEA Foundation, which include promoting equality, empowering women and girls, and promoting sustainable and innovative solutions to social challenges.
How to Apply

To apply for the IKEA Foundation grant, you will need to submit a project proposal that outlines your idea, its potential impact, and how you plan to implement it. The proposal should be written in English and should include the following information:

  • Background: Describe the context in which your project will operate, including the specific challenge or need faced by refugees that your project aims to address.
  • Objectives: Describe the specific objectives of your project, and how they align with the priorities of the IKEA Foundation.
  • Methodology: Explain how you plan to implement your project, including the activities you will undertake, the resources you will require, and the timeline for implementation.
  • Impact: Describe the potential impact of your project, including how it will improve the lives of refugees and contribute to a more effective humanitarian response.
  • Sustainability: Explain how you plan to sustain the impact of your project beyond the grant period, and how you will ensure that it can be scaled up or replicated in other contexts.
  • Budget: Provide a detailed budget for your project, including all the costs associated with implementation. The budget should be realistic and demonstrate that you have carefully considered the resource requirements of your project.

Other Sources of Grants for Food Pantry You Can Consider

  1. Community Food Projects Competitive Grant Program (CFPCGP)

The primary intention of this program is to rally together stakeholders from numerous parts of the food system and to guarantee an understanding of national food security trends and how they may impact local food systems.

With the realization that low-income individuals always have to deal with disproportionate access to healthy food, projects are meant to deal with food and nutrition insecurity, especially when it has to do with the country’s most vulnerable populations. Communities that are partially or fully located in Opportunity Zones are advised to apply.


To be eligible, you will have to conform with all CFP Purpose and Priorities eligibility requirements and be an eligible entity type. All your projects will need to align with the CFPCGP Purpose and Priorities as per the current RFA.

How to Apply 

To apply, visit

  1. Community Development Block Grants

This is more or less referred to as the largest source of funding from the government especially for organizations that specialize in meeting the everyday needs of the society, such as hunger.

The Federal Government via its Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) tend to make available grant for local governments, and this will afterwards be allocated to deserving organizations or individuals. Normally, the local government will allocate the funds once a year, after a selection of submitted applications.


Qualified grantees include;

  • Principal cities of Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs)
  • Other metropolitan cities with populations of at least 50,000
  • Qualified urban counties with populations of at least 200,000 (excluding the population of entitled cities)
How to Apply

Have it in mind that the application process for this grant may differ in every state, as such if your organization is looking to establish a food bank or food pantry, then it is recommended you reach out to the local county or city government and then ask them how to apply for CDBG grant.

  1. United Way

The national and local United Way organizations have for years focused on propelling the efforts of human service programs like a food pantry. The United Way makes available a wide range of nonprofit grants for establishing a food pantry.

The United Way in numerous places or cities has provided and is still providing start-up grant funding to ensure that businesses such as food pantries can start and also stay in business.


Although this grant funding is by invitation only; however, the Community Impact Council tends to consider certain variables when choosing whether to open the Community Grant application process to new organizations in the upcoming grant cycle. To be eligible for United Way’s highly competitive community Grants, you will be expected to:

  • See to precise health and human service needs
  • Conform with United Way’s mission and impact areas of health, education, and financial stability
  • Demonstrate a need for United Way funds
  • Be truthfully responsible and efficient in administration and operation while avoiding duplication of services.
How to Apply

Visit the United Way website to complete and submit the Eligibility Application for the United Way 2023 – 2025 Community Grant cycle.

  1. Food Pantry Support Agencies

If you carry out extensive research, you will find nonprofit organizations such as The Food Pantry that are focused on guaranteeing that economically disadvantaged people can have access to healthy meals.

Note that one way the organizations achieve this is by making available grants to help in arranging new food banks along with providing funding to help encourage ongoing operations.

  1. Religious Organizations

You will also find that a good number of churches and other religious organizations allocate a good part of their budgets to support community-based human service programs, such as food pantries.

While these organizations are known to provide smaller grants, they also strive to establish a long-term commitment to a food bank program. For instance, a church can make available a grant to provide food boxes to the needy one day a month.

  1. Civic Organizations

Owing to the delicate services food pantries offer, keep in mind that organizations such as Kiwanis, Optimists, and similar civic groups offer a wide range of start-up grants to projects like food pantries.

For instance, these organizations can decide to adopt a food pantry for a particular year or make arrangements to handle the establishment of such an agency. Within this same process, they provide grant funding and volunteer assistance to a specific food pantry program.