Update (June 11, 2015): Whole Foods Market Northern California shoppers raised $200,050.62 to support Small Producer Grants. This translates to $5,556.96 per recipient. Visit smallproducergrant.com for a full list of recipients.
Emeryville, Calif. (Feb. 17, 2015) – Today through March 4, food, body care and lifestyle product makers can apply to receive a grant from Whole Foods Market to grow their business. In total, the company will help fund 37 grants for NorCal makers. Whole Foods Market estimates each recipient will receive about $5,000. The grant application is online at smallproducergrant.com.
The Whole Foods Market Small Producer Grant Program presented by Working Solutions is designed to encourage communities to engage with local producers and help them grow. Whole Foods Market and Working Solutions, the nonprofit microloan agency that is processing the grants, will review entries after the application deadline and will work with Whole Foods Market to select and notify finalists. Three finalists will then be posted on each store or metro Facebook page (37 pages, 111 total finalists), where customers will be able to vote for a winner in each community.
Voting will take place on Facebook from May 11-26, with recipients announced May 27 and a region-wide “5 percent day” to fund the grants on June 10. Five percent of the region’s total sales from June 10 will be divided evenly among the 37 grant recipients.
“Two of the biggest struggles that face any young business are getting access to funds to help with expansion, and getting product visibility in the marketplace, so for us, winning a grant killed two birds with one stone,” said Dan Cook, founder of The Mead Kitchen, one of last year’s grant recipients. “The Mead Kitchen used the grant to help offset the cost of new bottling equipment, and we got our meads a lot of exposure through the Berkeley store.”
To qualify for a grant, producers must grow or make their product in North California or Reno and have no more than $150,000 in annual revenue. They must meet Whole Foods Market’s quality standards and carry liability insurance in the event that the grant leads to Whole Foods Market carrying the product in one or more stores. Additional eligibility requirements are outlined at smallproducergrant.com/application. Whole Foods Market and Working Solutions will not accept any late or incomplete applications.
Whole Foods Market has long been committed to supporting local producers. This is the second year for the grant program. In 2007, the company founded the Local Producer Loan Program, which provides short term, low-interest loans for capital expenditures for small food producers. Whole Foods Market’s Northern California Region also hosts biannual vendor support workshops to arm new and local vendors with best practices for working with the company and growing their business. The company’s regional foragers, based across the country, seek out the best new producers and work hand-in-hand with them to help bring their products to market.
When sharing on social media, users can join the conversation with #madelocally in any platform, or tag @WholeFoodsNorCA on Twitter. For more information on Whole Foods Market's support of local vendors, visit wholefoodsmarket.com/local.