RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam announced that the application period for the inaugural Virginia Food Access Investment Fund (VFAIF) is now open until April 30.
VFAIF will provide grants between $5,000 to $50,000 to support business development, construction, rehabilitation, equipment upgrades, or expansion of grocery stores, small food retailers, or innovative food retail projects that increase food access in underserved communities.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the problem of food insecurity, and historically marginalized groups are bearing a disproportionate burden,” said Governor Northam. “This fund will support our ongoing work to strengthen local food systems by encouraging investment in food deserts and increasing access to affordable, nutritious food where it is needed most, which in turn will help stimulate regional economies and improve the overall health of our communities.”
According to officials, around 1.7 million Virginians—including 480,000 children—live in low-income areas with limited access to healthy foods.
Virginia has used stimulus funds to give $219 million for the Pandemic EBT program through the Department of Social Services, $85 million for child nutrition programs, $7 million to support food banks, and $1.4 million to provide food boxes to Virginia families through the “We Care” initiative.
“Studies show that people residing in communities without a supermarket often suffer from disproportionately high rates of obesity, diabetes and other diet-related health problems,” said Senator Jennifer McClellan. “The Virginia Food Access Investment Fund can help right this wrong. Not only does the Virginia Food Access Investment Fund help position the Commonwealth as a leader in reducing food disparities, it also helps to build community assets, pride, and power by and with historically marginalized communities.”
The VFAIF application can be accessed through the here.