The food trucks business has experienced consistent growth over the years, and it does not appear like it is slowing down anytime soon. The Food Trucks industry in the United States alone has grown 6.6% per year on average between 2016 and 2023.
The food truck growth has always been a relatively stable industry, owing to several factors from accessibility to low-cost startup and potential for expansion amongst many other favorable factors. However, starting a food truck business requires some form of capital in one form or the other.
Yes, there are available government grants for food truck businesses in the United States. These grants were established to help entrepreneurs prepare for or start a viable food truck business. Although a good number of these grants may not indicate that the funding is for the trucking or food truck industry, the funding can still be used to start a food truck business.
When starting up a new food truck business, one of the first issues owners tend to contend with is the funds necessary to start the business.
You will need money to rent, lease or purchase a truck or cart, money to purchase kitchen equipment, obtain supplies, pay commissary fees, and every other professional fee like legal and accounting. You may also need money to pay your employees.
There are numerous places where you can obtain the funding your food truck needs, but first, you have to consider the sort of funding that will suit you best. Note that one way to obtain funding for your business without having to start your business on a deficit is to get a business grant.
Grant funds are non-repayable, and since obtaining a small business grant doesn’t require you to give away any equity in your business, they are a viable form of financing for small businesses. Note that business grants can come from federal, state, or local governments and corporations.
Note that each grant from each establishment comes with a specific focus, and business owners are expected to go for grants that align perfectly with their needs. Unlike loans, grants can’t be spent on anything the business deems fit. The funds will have been spent on the specified areas explained in the application.
There are numerous business grants available for food truck businesses—and the government indeed provides a substantial amount of funding for small business grants. If you are seeking grants to start or sustain an already established food truck business, here are the available grants to consider.
Available Grants for Food Truck Businesses
Healthy Food Financing Initiative
America’s Healthy Food Financing Initiative provides funding for healthy food retail, mainly to help them surpass the growing costs and notable barriers to serving areas with inequitable access. The program aims to offer additional capacity building and financing resources to build a more equitable food system that supports the health and economic vibrancy of all Americans.
This year’s HFFI round is offering at least $4 million in grant funds for food retail and food enterprises striving to improve access to healthy foods in underserved areas, create and preserve quality jobs, and boost low-income communities
Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBGP)
This funding program was established in 1974, and in recent years has grown to become one of the most viable and continuously managed programs at HUD. Note that this is a flexible program that provides communities with the incentives to cater to a vast range of unique community development needs.
The primary objective of this program is to create jobs through the expansion and retention of local businesses. It offers support for business planning, construction, equipment purchase, training, and technical assistance. Those seeking this grant are expected to put together a plan that encourages citizen participation and addresses community development needs.
Rural Business Enterprise Grants
According to reports, the RBEG program provides financial incentives primarily for rural development—including, by not limited to, infrastructural development, working capital for startup businesses, purchasing equipment, and real estate development.
Ideally, small requests are given more consideration, and grants tend to range around $10,000 and $50,000. Federally-recognized Indian tribes are among eligible applicants.
Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund
The Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) is known to play a very critical role in helping distressed communities in the United States generate economic growth and opportunities.
By providing financial incentives and innovative programs that invest federal dollars alongside private sector capital, this program strives to bolster mission-driven financial institutions that leverage a market-based approach to supporting economically disadvantaged communities.
Note that these mission-driven organizations are encouraged to apply for CDFI Certification and participate in CDFI Fund programs that provide new sources of capital to neighborhoods that lack access to financing.
Economic Development Agency (EDA)
The Economic Development Agency (EDA) is part of the Department of Commerce and offers numerous investment assistance opportunities for a wide range of programs. Available programs range from economic development to technical assistance to research and evaluation.
They also offer ongoing funding opportunities for projects that support regional and national economic development. Applicants can apply for a variety of rolling-basis EDA investments that fund projects in construction, non-construction, planning, technical assistance, research and evaluation, higher education, and more.
Federal Stimulus Aid
Agreeably, businesses of all sizes have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic of recent years. A good number of them are just getting started, while others have had to rethink their business model.
President Biden enacted a coronavirus stimulus bill that is designed to help these businesses scale through the challenges caused by the pandemic. This aid provides $1.9 trillion in assistance to businesses and individuals, and the bill includes aid in the form of tax credits, loans, and grants.
National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) Growth Grants
Since 2006, the NASE has awarded nearly $1,000,000 to members through the Growth Grants program by providing small business grants. Have it in mind that its growth grants offer up to $4,000 to assist with training, marketing, and more.
To qualify to apply, you are expected to be a member for 90 days. Grants can be used for marketing, advertising, hiring employees, expanding facilities, and other specific business needs.
Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contracting Program
The federal government has created a program that works to award at least 5% of federal contracting dollars to women-owned small businesses annually.
Via this SBA program, the Office of Women’s Business Ownership makes available top-notch support to women entrepreneurs by offering business training, counseling, federal contracts, and access to credit and capital. They aim to provide equal opportunities for all women in business.
Kansas Job Creation Fund
Kansas’s Job Creation Fund strives to provide businesses looking for help to establish themselves in Kansas with the funds and support they need. Note that this fund disburses the grant money to recipients over three years as their business attains certain stipulated investment and employment benchmarks.
Miami Mom and Pop Small Business Grant
If you’re in Miami and have been in business for at least a year, you should consider applying for this program. The District 5 Mom & Pop Small Business Grant Program provides financial and technical assistance, coupled with resources to qualified businesses approved for funding.
The Mom & Pop program is offered in each of the 13 Miami-Dade County Commission Districts, this application is only for businesses located within District 5, including parts of the cities of Miami and Miami Beach.
Delta Regional Authority (DRA)
The Delta Regional Authority (DRA) has promised to always help propel growth in quality of life and also bolster economic development opportunities. According to reports, their main investment tool is the States’ Economic Development Assistance Program (SEDAP).
The Delta Regional Authority’s SEDAP was established to bolster the economic development activities taking place in the Delta region. Its main focus is on growing small businesses and promoting a healthy delta. Farm to School initiatives that increase jobs and have a sustainable, regional approach may be eligible for DRA grant funds.
Community Economic Development (CED) Program
The Department of Health and Human Services Community Economic Development (CED) Program strives to proffer solutions to the economic needs of low-income people via the creation of employment and business opportunities.
Note that this fund can be used for business startup and expansion, and the purchase of equipment or property. Also note that CED projects can support agriculture initiatives by providing funding for physical food hubs, processing or cooperative facilities, job training, and marketing.
Louisiana Community Development Block Grant
The Office of Community Development strives to help improve the living environments and economic opportunities of Louisiana’s low-income residents.
While small businesses like food trucks are not allowed to apply directly, these businesses can reach out to the state or local government branches that are most relevant to their business’s function and see if they can obtain funding to carry on with their business and community work. There are also disaster recovery grants that are issued to businesses affected by hurricanes.
If you are just starting a food truck business, and need some grants to help get things going, then you should consider these grant programs noted above. However, obtaining free money from the government comes with a substantial amount of paperwork.
Note that applying for a grant can be quite daunting and technical. It is critical to first ensure that you are eligible before applying. Coupled with the legal and administrative prerequisites, there may be ongoing reporting and auditing requirements.
Starting a Food Truck Business
Starting your ideal food truck business starts with you taking your time to research more about what goes into starting one. There are several components of the food business that one has to consider before launching their business.
One of the first steps of creating your food truck business is to ensure that you are in the right location. This is very important not just for food, but for almost every businesses entity. Location is key when it comes to the food business. You need to have people be able to easily access your food business without any hassles whatsoever.
After the issue of location has been successfully taken care of, the other factors would be about finding the necessary grants and other forms of funding to help you get started. There are indeed funding awards to help you launch a new restaurant, and others to help you sustain one that is already in existence.
The SBA Restaurant Revitalization Grant is one that offers some funding help to revitalize restaurant businesses that have suffered revenue loss due to the pandemic.
The Benefits of Starting a Food Truck Business
There are several benefits to starting a food truck business. One of which is the mobility that it offers. A food truck business also does not require you to invest hundreds of thousands to start one.
The biggest investment you may be looking at when it comes to starting this business is actually acquiring the food truck itself. For many who are just starting out, and may not have the luxury of extra saved funds to get a food truck, your other option, in this case, would be renting a food truck.
Renting a food truck is actually very beneficial in many ways. You can start with the rental food truck, and start to save money towards purchasing yours, or the same truck if it is available for sale. When you think of food truck leasing, it does not get too complicated if you know just how to go about leasing one and moving on with your business.
After all of the initial arrangements from finding the ideal location, to getting a used truck and finding funding options for your business, then the next thing would be to see what options you have when it comes to finding grants that are specifically tailored for food truck businesses. The idea of a BBQ food truck sounds great on paper, but bringing the idea to work is where the work is at.