See where to get federal and state government grants to help fund your new food truck business
Food truck businesses are one of the cheapest ways to get started in the catering industry. You don’t pay rents, utilities or business rates like bricks-and-mortar restaurants and you can move to another location if footfall drops off.
However, initial capital is needed for things like the food truck and equipment or for taking an existing mobile catering operation to the next level.
Luckily there is help out there in the form of federal and state government grants for new food truck start-ups and business owners in the industry looking to expand. There is also a range of other non-profit and corporate entities which offer grants for food trucks and equipment.
In this article, I’ve compiled a list of federal and state government grants for food truck businesses and a few examples of non-profit and corporate companies that have provided grants to food truck businesses through contests.
- Federal government grants
- Small Business Administration
- Grant Watch
- COVID-19 Assistance Grants
- Restaurant Revitalization Fund
- USDA Food & Nutrition Service
- Minority Business Development Agency
- SBA: Veteran assistance program
- Local Government Grants
- SBA: Small Business Development Centers (SBDC)
- CA.Gov: California Dream Fund Program
- Texas: Incentives & Grants
- Dayton Texas
- Non-Profit & Corporate grants
- NASE Growth Grants
- NAV Small Business Grants
Federal government grants
The best place to start when searching for funding for your food truck business is at the federal level. This can help you to filter down what help may be available in your state or local area.
Small Business Administration
The Small Business Administration (SBA) is a federal government agency which provides counselling, capital, and contracting expertise to upstarts and small businesses.
Whilst they don’t seem to offer direct grants to individuals they do provide funding to community organizations and cooperatives that support small business growth and development. They do have a list of, however, whom you can contact the organizations directly.
Go to US Small Business Administration
Grants.Gov is a government database for federal agencies to post discretionary funding opportunities and for people looking to start a business to apply to them. They have over 1000 grant programs which can be applied to.
The benefit of their database is you can potentially filter a wider array of government grants based on specific criteria or your circumstances.
For example, you can filter grants by funding type, eligibility, category and agency.
Go to Grants.gov
Grant watch is a similar website to Grant.gov in that it’s a database to search a wide range of grants for different types of industries.
With over 7,7500 active grants Grant Watch provide a place to find funding opportunities for, small businesses and individuals.
However, unlike Grant.gov which is free to use and run by the federal government, Grant Watch is based on a subscription model where you pay a monthly fee to access all the agencies that offer grants.
Go to Grant Watch
COVID-19 Assistance Grants
In the wake of the global covid pandemic, the government has assisted all types of businesses including food trucks and mobile caterers.
The government passed the CARES act which has several grant schemes within it to help struggling businesses with things like capital to cover the cost of keeping hold of employees and smaller cash injections to help weather the effects of the pandemic.
Go to the CARES act guide
Restaurant Revitalization Fund
Another government grant for small businesses issued by the Small Business Administration is the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.
Eligible businesses for the grant include food stands, food trucks and food carts and can cover things like supplier costs, rents and business debt servicing.
Priority groups include women, veterans and the socially and economically disadvantaged.
Go to the SBA
USDA Food & Nutrition Service
The USDA run a Community Food Projects Competitive Grant Program to fight food insecurity by developing community food projects that help promote the self-sufficiency of low-income communities.
One of the objectives of the program is to increase the self-reliance of communities in providing for their own food needs.
This may therefore present an opportunity to budding entrepreneurs who want to start a healthy type of food truck business where their produce is locally grown and sourced and sold within the local community.
Go to USDA
Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA)
The MBDA is a government agency and part of the US Department of Commerce and aims to promote the growth and global competitiveness of minority business enterprises.
They can provide grants for start-up costs for equipment, material and supplies and even for hiring and salary expenses.
Go to MBDA
SBA: Veteran assistance program
If you already have a food truck business and are a veteran in the arms services then the Veteran assistance program may be the route to securing some funding.
Eligibility requirements include being a small business (according to SBA’s standards) and being at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more service-disabled veterans.
Go to SBA
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Local government Grants
You can also check your local state department to see what government grants may be available to help start a food truck business or expand an existing one.
Below are just a few examples of what is available to small businesses in some states.
SBA: Small Business Development Centers (SBDC)
The SBA runs a number of centres in states throughout the US to help pre-start-ups and existing businesses access capital for equipment and expansion.
They can also provide practical help with things like marketing, product development, strategy and personnel administration amongst other business guidance.
Go to SBA
CA.Gov: California Dream Fund Program
The California Dream Fund is administered by the California Office of the Small Business Advocate to small businesses and entrepreneurs through participating centres of the Technical Assistance Expansion Program (TAEP).
This involves completing a training program where after successful completion new businesses will be eligible to apply for a microgrant of up to $10,000.
Go to CA.Gov
Texas: Incentives & Grants
In 2020, Amegy Bank partnered with the Houston Texans to create the Small Business Boost program, which supports local small businesses in the Houston community.
To be eligible for this grant you must already be operating, be a small indecently owned business with under 500 employees and have an annual turnover below $20 million.
Go to Small Business Boost
The City of Dayton and the Dayton Community Development Corporation offer grants and incentives to promote the growth and regeneration of the downtown district in Dayton by promoting new business development and expansion.
Funding can come in the form of cash grants, reduced permitting fees and sales tax rebates.
Go to the City of Dayton
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Non-Profit & Corporate grants
Aside from government grants, there are other grants that individuals can apply for to help to start a new business or expand from non-profit entities and corporate companies.
Here are two examples of where individuals looking to start or expand a food truck business may be able to get funding.
NASE Growth Grants
The National Association for the Self-Employed is awarding grants of up to $4000 for things like marketing, advertising, hiring employees, expanding facilities and other specific business needs.
To access these grants you must become a member of the association and provide information on a specific business need and what you will use the proceeds of the grant for. You also need to show the anticipated benefits of receiving the grant in terms of business growth.
Go to NASE
NAV Small Business Grants
NAV is a financial tech company which awards up to $10000 in grants to small businesses looking to get to the next level through their grant contests.
Previous winners of the Small Business Grant include Herbal Frequency which is a Vegan food truck that was awarded $10,000 in 2021 for a new flat-top grill and a down payment on a brick-and-mortar restaurant.
Che Butter Jonez was also awarded a $10,000 grant in the contest to purchase equipment for a new mobile shipping container after they lost their previous commercial facility while cutting costs during COVID.
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Gavin D is the founder of Street Food Central and Tru Foo Juice Bar Co. and has worked in the mobile catering industry for over 7 years.