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Whole Foods Market invites food producers to apply for grants

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Through May 31, local food and body care product makers can apply to receive a grant from Whole Foods Market to grow their business—whether they currently supply the retailer with products or not. This is the first time Whole Foods has offered grants for local producers.

“This can be a significant financial boon for a small producer as it can fund organic certification, Non-GMO Project verification, a down payment on a delivery van, or even a batch of raw ingredients,” said Harv Singh, Whole Foods Market Northern California Regional Forager.

To fund the grants, each of the company’s 40 Northern California stores, including Santa Cruz and Capitola, will host a “5% Day” on July 2 with 5% of the day’s sales going to their local grant recipient. These days typically generate between $3,000 and $6,000 per store. Community members will play a key role in selecting each store’s recipient: Once applicants are gathered, the company will select 120 finalists (three for each store). From June 12 to 19, the public can go to their local Whole Foods store Facebook page and vote on one of the three finalists. Winners will be announced on June 23 so shoppers can support the supplier of their choice on July 2.

To qualify for a grant, producers must grow or make their product in North California or Reno and earn no more than $100,000 in annual revenue. They must meet specific quality standards and carry liability insurance in the event the grant leads to Whole Foods carrying the product in stores. Additional eligibility requirements are outlined on the website; no late applications will be accepted. For more information or to access a grant application, visit localfoodmakergrant.com.

Whole Foods Market has long been committed to supporting local producers. In 2007, the company founded the Local Producer Loan Program, which provides short term, low-interest loans for capital expenditures for small food producers.

Follow me on Twitter @santacruzfoodie.

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