Do you need financing for your food truck business to operate smoothly? If YES, here are 22 best sources of small business grants for food truck owners.
When one starts thinking of starting a business, funding is the next question that comes to mind. In fact, the funding question comes even alongside with the business idea because your business idea, no matter how fantastic it is, will go nowhere if you do not have the money to get it off the ground.
When it comes to a food truck business, you have to be looking at getting some substantial revenue because you will first of all need to get a truck, before you will start thinking about your food truck equipment, the meals you will serve, and getting about one or two staff to help you out. Of course you also have to factor in insurance and other bills that come along with starting a business.
This goes to show that you cannot start your food truck business unless you have substantial capital at hand. What most people do at this juncture is to start thinking of business loans, but loans come with their own typical headaches, chief of it being that you are starting your business on a deficit, coupled with the fact that you get denied countless of times especially if you have problems with your credit score.
One way to get the money you need for your business without having to start your business on deficit is to get a business grant. If you are able to get them, small business grants would help you start up your business on the right footing, while giving you the much needed peace of mind.
A variety of grants are available that may help you prepare for and start your food truck business. While most of these grants did not indicate that their grants are for the trucking or food truck industry but the funding can still be used toward the startup costs of purchasing your own truck and equipment.
Here are a few avenues that can give you a grant to run your food truck business in the united states, and what you can do to easily get these grants.
22 Best Sources of Small Business Grants for Food Trucks and How to Get Them
- Small Business Administration
One of the first places that food truck business owners go to when they are looking for a grant is to the Small Business Administration or SBA. The SBA is a federal government agency that promotes and invests in small businesses across all industries, including food trucks. To get started on your application, you first need to look out for your industry to see what is available there.
- Government Grants
Once you have your business structured so that you are able to apply for grants, check out Grants.gov. This is the place to go to apply for federal and state grants. One of the good things about this grant is that it is available for all business funding including food trucks.
For this reason, there is usually a lot of grants to look through. Start your search by using the keyword ‘food trucks.’ You can also narrow down your choices to focus solely on grants or to include cooperative agreements and procurement contracts.
To be fair, there won’t be too many grants primarily for food trucks. What you’ll need to do is read through the grants that show up as they relate to truck driving and maybe the restaurant industry.
- Trucker-specific grants
Most of the grants available specifically to the trucking industry are aimed at “green” initiatives, including the National Clean Diesel Campaign organized by the Environmental Protection Agency. This program provides grant funding to trucking companies (food trucks included) for a variety of measures that reduce emissions. However, in many cases these grants only help to offset the higher cost of “greener” trucks and equipment, but don’t provide enough funding to cover the entire cost of a truck and its necessary accessories.
- USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant Program
The USDA is another federal resource for grant opportunities. If you are starting your food truck in a rural area earning less than $1 million and with fewer than 50 people working for you, then you are eligible to apply for this grant.
Currently, the program is not accepting applications, but that status could change at any time. Contact your local cooperative extension office for more information. The grant rewards with the USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant Program can get from $10,000 to a whopping half a million dollars.
- FedEx Small Business Grant Contest
Each year, the FedEx Small Business Grant Contest awards 10 small businesses up to $25,000 each. This contest is very competitive so you have to craft your business plan in such a way as to make it to stand out. Any type of small business may apply for this contest including food truck businesses.
To give you an idea of what kind of competition you’d be facing, in 2017 there were 4,500 applicants and 10 winners. The grand prize is $25,000, and the other winners in the top ten get $5,000. If your food truck is out of the ordinary and has an original concept, it could win the big prize.
- SBA 8(a) Business Development
The SBA 8(a) program is not a grant of funds, but it may be extremely beneficial to a new business owner. If your application for enrollment is accepted, you will receive mentoring and counseling for free, plus the mentor may have contacts that will be helpful to you in your quest for funding.
This is particularly applicable if your strategy is to secure a government contract and use it to pay for your startup expenses. In addition, the SBA does have a variety of loan programs available to its members, though this may not be your concern for now.
With the mentorship, you are included in a network of business professionals who are interested in investing in small businesses. In this area, you can find wealthy business leaders who want to grant you money for a small stake in your company. But you have to be smart here and probably seek better advice before committing to anything.
- Idea Cafe Grant
This program gives women $1,000 micro-grants to start or grow a business. Again, men are also allowed to apply for this grant, but most of the former winners have been women.
- NASE Growth Grants
The NASE is yet another grant fund that is available to food truck businesses. The National Association for the Self-Employed specializes in helping small business owners of all types. Growth grants are issued in amounts up to $4,000 and can be used for “marketing, advertising, hiring employees, expanding facilities and other specific business needs,” according to the NASE website. You’ll have to join the NASE and be a member in good standing to qualify for this grant.
- Veteran-Owned Business Opportunities
Veterans starting their own businesses have access to grants based on their prior military service. They can apply with any business of their choice, including food trucks. The Department of Veterans Affairs connects vets with loan and grant opportunities through its Veteran Entrepreneur Portal.
You’ll have to meet each program’s guidelines to qualify, which will include following compliance guidelines. If you have a service-connected disability, you may also qualify for the VR&E Self-Employment Track, which offers help with essentials like creating a business plan.
- Nav Small Business Grant
Nav is a company that offers financing to small businesses including food trucks. They’ve launched a small business grant program that issues awards of up to $10,000 to small business owners. To get this grant, you will have to sign up for a free account to enter, and post on your business’s Facebook page to tell your story.
- Wells Fargo Community Giving Grants
These grants, which you can apply for year-round, are mainly for nonprofits and educational programs, though some small businesses of all kinds can apply including food trucks. They sometimes go out of their way to consider other businesses.
- SBIR Grants (Small Business Innovation Research)
Small Business Innovation Research program was implemented by Congress. This program awards approximately $2 billion to small businesses each year and a number of food truck businesses have benefited from this grant. Eligibility requirement include owning a small business with less than 500 employees. The business must be for profit, be in the United States, and owned by a United States citizen.
The grant amount depends on what the business would like to do with it. The purpose is to use the money to conduct research to grow the business. This can be research on the products or services offered to consumers.
- Apply for State Grants
Depending on where you live, you may qualify for state-level small business grants. Check with your state’s economic development agency to find out more about existing grants. Ask about eligibility requirements and what the application process looks like.
A good resource is GrantWatch.com, which features state grants in every category, from business grants to minority grants and science grants. Beware, though, that you must purchase a subscription in order to receive full access to this platform.
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Food Truck Financing for Women Food Truck Business Owners
- The Amber Grant
Women that own food truck businesses can apply for the Amber Grant, which awards grants of $2,000 each to 12 winners, who all qualify to win one annual prize of $25,000. To enter, you’ll tell your story from the heart and disclose what you will do with the money if you win. There is a $15 application fee to enter, but that is just a small price to pay.
- Women’s Business Centers
Women’s Business Centers is yet another friendly organization that offer grants to women that run small businesses, including food trucks. About 100 SBA-sponsored women’s business centers exist throughout the United States of America. They are designed to assist women with growing their small businesses (food trucks inclusive).
While the agencies provide counseling and training on various topics, they may also help you find local grants that you may qualify for and help walk you through the application process. To search for a local Women’s Business Center in your area, you can visit their official website.
- Eileen Fisher Woman-Owned Business Grant
Eileen Fisher Woman-Owned Business Grant was founded by a women’s clothing retailer and it awards $100,000 to up to 10 business owners per year. To be eligible for this grant, women must make up at least 51 percent of their business’s ownership and leadership, their annual revenue must not exceed $1 million, and to qualify, the applicant must have been in business for at least 3 years.
Fashion designer Eileen Fisher launched the Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant Program in in 2004. Today the company awards $100,000 in total grants annually to 10 women-owned businesses beyond the startup stage (maximum $10,000 per recipient). They have announced that they will re-launch the grant program in 2019 with new rules.
- Lending Tree
Lending Tree primarily offers different types of loans, but also periodically runs small business grant contests. In 2017, the winner won $50,000. They judge businesses based on how passionate the founders are, and if growing their business will result in a better community.
Food Truck Grants for Minorities
- Minority Business Grants
If you are part of a marginalized group, the Minority Business Development Agency can help give you a grant for your business. MBDA business centers are located across the United States to provide support and track down grant opportunities specific to your new food truck business. The National Minority Supplier Development Council Business Consortium Fund can help connect you with loans.
A growing number of organizations are offering minority grants to Latinos, Asians, Native Americans and others. In 2014, minority-owned companies accounted for 15 percent of all small businesses in the U.S. Whether you want to start a restaurant, food truck, a pub or a pizzeria, you may be eligible for a grant.
The Minority Business Development Center (MBDC), for example, supports minority-owned businesses that contribute to economic growth. Each year, it awards grants to creative entrepreneurs looking to expand their businesses.
In 2018, applicants competed for a grant of up to $1 million. Those who won the Meda’s Million Dollar Challenge received funding, mentorship and access to professional connections.
Food Truck Business Grants for Veterans
- StreetShares Foundation Business Awards
Veterans or veterans’ spouses who want to create or expand their food truck business can apply for up to $15,000 in grant money from the StreetShares Foundation. Applications are judged by the social impact a business will have on the military community, the business idea, the team and company history, product-market fit, and how the award will be used. There are three grants offered annually: $2,000, $3,000, and $5,000.
- Warrior Rising
Founded by veterans, Warrior Rising provides grants to veterans and their immediate families to help them create sustainable businesses and hire fellow veterans. Businesses at all stages can apply, including food trucks, and grants can be used to cover initial startup costs such as tools, equipment, licensing and marketing.
It might be a long shot, but it is an option that’s become more available over the past decade. If you’re lucky enough to compete on one of the many cooking competition shows on the Food Network or elsewhere, you might actually win a big chunk of cash to satisfy some of your food truck costs. The number of shows in this area have catapulted in recent years, increasing the number of opportunities and chances to appear.
Considering that many people owning a food truck usually have (or should have) some decent culinary experience and chops under their belt, it technically counts as a viable option. And of course if you do get on, a national television appearance provides the kind of high-profile marketing that you’d never be able to afford otherwise.
- No Interest Loans with Kiva
The idea of getting a zero interest loan may sound too good to be true. But in this case, it’s not. Kiva is a non-profit group based out of San Francisco that helps small business owners in the United States raise the money they need to start small businesses. There is a maximum of $10,000 that you can get distributed through Kiva.
How to Apply for Food Truck Business Grants
One thing is finding the grants you want, but another thing is applying and and getting funded.
- As a small business owner in search of a grant to run your food truck business, you will first need to create a business plan to maximize your chances. This information will strengthen your grant application and add a quantitative value for the business, in terms of profit. There are multiple resources on the Internet that are geared towards helping you with your business plan, you only need to seek them out.
To get better chances, you need to draft a business plan that formally states the goals of the business and outlines a plan of action for attaining those goals. Use the document to explain to lenders and grantors an actionable plan of success that can be measured.
Outline profit goals as well as how to maximize those profits. Focus on the potential revenue that may be earned during the first quarter or year to create a value for the company as well as qualify it for financial backing. Focus the business plan on the internal and external factors that will define the business and its working goals.
- Go to the largest grant database on the web to start your search. Visit the Grants.gov website to research and apply for a trucking business grant. It’s the largest web based grant database in the US. Unlike other websites that charge a fee or require purchase of a grant guide, Grant.gov provides current grant information free of charge.
- Scroll to the “For Applicant” tab. Click on the “Grant Search” bulletin.
- Begin a “Keyword Search,” or “Search by Funding Opportunity Number” or “Search by CFDA Number”. Enter a keyword and then click, “Enter.” In this instance, enter “Trucking,” or “Food truck.”
- Review the search results that were brought out. Review information by close date, agency, fund number or attachment. This will enable you make informed choices.
- Sort by date or relevance for easy viewing and handling.
- Click on the grant information that is relevant to you. Click on the grant to view a larger synopsis or start an application to apply for a food truck grant. For the full announcement, click “Full Announcement.” To start an application, click “Application.”
- Complete the application, submit and track it. Complete an online application and then track the status of the application using the “Track my application” tab.
4 Tips to Ensure That Your Food Truck Business Get Funded
It is a fact that there are just too may businesses that are in need of grants, but just too few business grants to go around. This is the reason why you have to be very proactive if you want to benefit from a small business grant for you food truck. For this reason, we have provided you tips that would help to ensure that you maximize your chances when applying for a grant for your food truck business.
- Make it a point to be aware of grant openings – Many grants are only open to applications once a year. Find a way to make sure you get notification for these openings. Schedule time to put together an application ahead of time.
2. Write a business plan first – Most grants ask for a business plan, in fact, a lot of them. The funders just want to know how exactly the grant money will help your business. So, before you even start applying for a business grant, make it a point to have your food truck business plan ready first.
3. See what companies have been funded in the past – This can help you determine which grants you have a good chance of winning. If they funded similar types of business as your own, then that’s a good sign.
4. Seek some type of help – Grants are very competitive and as such are difficult to get. To ensure that you have better chances at winning, you need to get help from local business organisations so they would help you put some things in place. These organisations can help you find grant opportunities, as well as present your business in the best light.
Again, if you come across a grant that requires a well-written cover letter or essay, consider hiring a professional freelance grant writer if you can afford it. This may be a necessity if you are aiming for the big bucks.
What Not to Do
- Procrastinate – Many grants require you to become a member of an organization or get a certification or license, or do other things. You may not have time to meet the eligibility conditions if you wait too long.
- Use a single template all round – Each grant application should be tailored to each specific grant. Otherwise you’ll include a lot of irrelevant information and not include important answers that were asked for.
- Apply for every grant – There are many grants that your business will have virtually zero chance of winning. You know that too. It’s better to spend more time on the most relevant grants, than to spread yourself too thin and have lower quality applications on many grants. This would greatly reduce your chances of winning even one.