Microfood Business Grant Program

The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors recently approved a new round of grants to help microfood businesses that have not received assistance from the County COVID-19-relief programs in the past 12 months.  

The Microfood Business Grant application portal is now open! The portal will close on Monday, December 27, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. To apply, please click the button below:

Frequently Asked Questions

PROGRAM OVERVIEW QUESTIONS

What is the Microfood Business Grant Program?


The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors recently approved a new round of grants to help microfood businesses that have not received assistance from the County COVID-19-relief programs in the past 12 months. The Microfood Business Grant Program will provide grants of $2,500, $5,000 or $10,000 to each selected business, depending on the type of business. Qualifying establishments can use the funds to offset losses in revenue and past debt due to the COVID-19 pandemic state shutdown orders beginning in March 2020, ensure continued operation, and assist in covering current business operating expenses.




What can microfood business owners use the grant funding to pay for?


The funding must be used to ensure continued operation or assist in covering current business operating expenses, including, for example: current or past rent, payroll, supplies and other ongoing obligations.




How much grant funding will be awarded to eligible applicants?


$2,500, $5,000 or $10,000 each to qualifying and selected microfood business:

$2,500 – cottage food operators

$5,000 – caterers, food trucks and food carts

$10,000 – commissaries or incubator kitchens




Are there any income requirements?


No, however priority will be given to applicants who are members of a household that had a 2020 gross household income at or below 100% of Area Median Income (“AMI”) (excluding applicants applying as commissaries and incubator kitchens), as demonstrated by tax returns, with AMI household data as follows:

  • Household of 1: $121,800
  • Household of 2: $139,200
  • Household of 3: $156,600
  • Household of 4: $174,000
  • Household of 5: $188,000
  • Household of 6: $201,900
  • Household of 7: $215,800
  • Household of 8: $229,700




Will I have to pay the money back?


No, these emergency grants won’t require any repayment. However, you will receive a 1099 for federal tax reporting and fraud may result in prosecution.




When will the application period open and close?


The application portal is scheduled to open on Monday, November 29, 2021, at 8:00 a.m. and remain open until Friday, December 17, 2021, at 5:00 p.m. The application portal will be at www.smcstrong.org.




How can I apply?


The County of San Mateo will be accepting San Mateo County Strong Fund Microfood Business Grant applications at their website at www.smcstrong.org. The application portal is scheduled to open on Monday, November 29, 2021, at 8:00 a.m. and remain open until Friday, December 17, 2021, at 5:00 p.m.




Who can I contact with questions?


Please email County of San Mateo staff for more information at sbgrant@smcgov.org or call the following numbers between 9 AM and 4 PM on weekdays:

English: 650-413-5600

Spanish: 855-221-1777

Chinese: 888-262-7552

Tagalog: 855-257-7474




Can I apply in-person?


No. Applications will only be accepted online at www.smcstrong.org.





APPLICATION PROCESS QUESTIONS

Can I apply in-person?


No. Applications will only be accepted online at www.smcstrong.org.




Will I need to pay an application fee?


No. There is no fee to apply. There are no processing fees if you receive a grant.




Will the application be available in languages other than English?


Yes, the application will also be available in Spanish, Chinese and Tagalog.




Do I need to be a US citizen or legal resident to apply?


No. Undocumented business owners who can provide required evidence of eligibility and required documentation can apply.




How many grants will be approved in this first round of applications?


As many as possible. There is $500,000 in available funds for this program.




Will I get the full amount of the grant?


In most cases, applicants who meet all eligibility requirements, are selected in the lottery, and submit all final documentation will receive the full amount associated with the type of microfood business they operate:

$2,500 – cottage food operators

$5,000 – caterers, food trucks and food carts

$10,000 – commissaries or incubator kitchens




Can I apply twice for the same business?


No, only one application per location. The anticipated need across the 21 cities, towns, and unincorporated San Mateo County will be significant. Funding must be used to support as many unique applicants as possible.




How is the decision made about which business will be awarded grants?


Fully completed pre-applications submitted during the application period will be reviewed to confirm basic eligibility, and each establishment will be placed in a pool of other microfood businesses by type located in the same city, town, or unincorporated area. Eligible establishments in each locality and microfood type pool will be selected at random for grant award until all grants appropriated for that area are exhausted. Those applicants that meet the San Mateo County AMI will be prioritized in the selection process.




Can I appeal the decision if I am deemed ineligible?


No.




Can I finish an incomplete application after the deadline?


No.





APPLICATION ELIGIBILITY QUESTIONS

What are the criteria for approval?


To be eligible under the County’s small business assistance program, a business must meet all the following criteria:

  • Currently operates a small food service business and has lawfully operated since before January 1, 2021;
  • Provides food service or sale of food or beverage-related goods as of the time of the grant application;
  • As of the time of the grant application, has an active permit from County Environmental Health Services (EHS) in any of the following Fee (PE) Categories: cottage food operators: PE 1590 and 1591; caterers: PE 1551, food trucks: PE 1542 and 1543; food carts: PE 1540 and 1541, or commissaries and incubator kitchens: PE 1550.
  • Owner of business must either live in San Mateo County or operate their business primarily in San Mateo County. In cases of non-sole proprietorship for businesses that are not operated in San Mateo County, 50% or more of business ownership must be comprised of residents of San Mateo County;
  • Business owner has demonstrated that the business has been negatively economically impacted by the COVID-19 public health emergency (including due to declines in revenues, or impacts of periods of business closure or diminished operating capacity);
  • Owns no more than five qualifying businesses within the jurisdictional boundaries of San Mateo County. (Applicants with multiple businesses and/or permits may submit an application for each qualifying business, however applicants will only be eligible for one grant from this program).
  • Is in full compliance with all applicable regulations for the business, including but not limited to the following: County EHS requirements, inclusive of a Food Placarding System “PASS” rating if applicable, County/City planning and building requirements;
    • State/County/City business and other licenses required by law;
    • State and local minimum wage requirements; and
  • Owner of business possesses and presents a copy of government-issued photo identification

Businesses that have changed ownership since January 1, 2021, and otherwise meet the criteria are eligible.

Priority will be given to applicants who are members of a household that had a 2020 gross household income at or below 100% of Area Median Income (“AMI”) (excluding applicants applying as commissaries and incubator kitchens), as demonstrated by tax returns, with AMI household data as follows:

  • Household of 1: $121,800
  • Household of 2: $139,200
  • Household of 3: $156,600
  • Household of 4: $174,000
  • Household of 5: $188,000
  • Household of 6: $201,900
  • Household of 7: $215,800
  • Household of 8: $229,700




What types of businesses do not qualify for the grant?


Applicants will be ineligible for a grant from the Program under the following circumstances:

  • Incomplete applications.
  • Failure to meet the eligibility criteria outlined above.
  • They are a non-profit entity.
  • The applicant’s establishment has received or been approved for a grant from any of the following programs:
    • Small business relief program managed by Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center, approved by the Board of Supervisors on October 20, 2020 (Resolution 077791)
    • San Mateo County Strong Fund Small Business Grant administered by the Community Fund, approved by the Board of Supervisors on November 10, 2020 (Resolution 077828) (recipients of grants from earlier San Mateo County Strong grant programs are eligible for the Program)
    • San Mateo County Restaurant, Brewery & Winery Grant Program (Resolution No. 077963)
  • The applicant's business has received over $200,000 in gross revenue from participation in the “Great Plates” program.
  • The applicant is a corporate-owned chain franchise. For the purpose of this program, a “chain” is defined as a business with six or more locations operating or doing business under the same brand name, regardless of owner.




What type of documentation will applicants be required to submit as part of the online application process?


Applicants will not be required to submit documentation during the initial application process. Once an application is deemed eligible and selected for funding, the applicant will be notified by San Mateo County and asked to provide the following documentation:

  • Copy of a valid City Business License (if a license is offered)
  • Copy of signed W-9
  • 2019 and 2020 Tax Returns
  • Photo ID(s) for the at least 51% of owner/partners/managing parties
  • Copy of a current Environmental Health Permit
  • Statement of how the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively economically impacted your business
  • Legal residency is not a condition of approval, and no information will be shared with other government agencies.




Does the owner of the business need to be a resident of San Mateo County?


No. If the business is in San Mateo County according to the criteria for eligibility it does not matter where the business owner resides unless it is a franchise. If the business is a franchise, it must be owned and operated by a county resident or 50% or more of the franchisee ownership must be comprised of county residents.





APPLICATION EVALUATION PROCESS

How will applications be evaluated?


  • Incomplete applications will not be processed, and ineligible applications will not be considered
  • Complete pre-applications will be evaluated and determined for eligibility by geographic region
  • Eligible pre-applications will be put into a pool for selection by lottery
  • Selected businesses will be contacted by County staff to provide documentation and final determination of eligibility and certification by the evaluation committee
  • A list of fully approved businesses will be provided to the San Mateo Credit Union Community Fund for and disbursement of funds




What if I meet eligibility requirements for all but one of the criteria?


Unfortunately, you will not qualify. You will be notified by email that your application was not approved.




What if I do not provide all the documentation required for a complete application?


Unfortunately, you will not qualify. You will be notified by email that your application is incomplete and will be asked to reapply with complete documentation.





APPLICATION PORTAL QUESTIONS

Can I download the application and mail it somewhere or drop it off?


No. If you require assistance or are having difficulty completing your application, please email: sbgrant@smcgov.org




Will the application portal allow me to apply from a smartphone?


Yes.




What if I complete and submit my application, but am not selected for funding?


Any applications received during the application window but not selected for funding will be placed on a waiting list. Should additional funds become available, the applications will be selected at that time, until the additional funds are exhausted.




Will my application and supporting documentation be kept confidential?


Application and supporting documentation will be kept confidential, but your receipt of a grant will be publicly available information.





WHAT OTHER PROGRAMS ARE OFFERING GRANTS, LOANS AND SUPPORT FOR SMALL BUSINESSES?

State of California’s COVID-19 Business and Employers website:


https://covid19.ca.gov/business-and-employers/




SAMCEDA’s website for information about other local small business grant programs:


www.SAMCEDA.org