The Virginia Food Access Investment Fund (VFAIF) is a statewide program that focuses on equity and justice in local food systems by investing in new or expanding food retailers that address food access issues in the Commonwealth. VFAIF offers grants and loans to fund the business development, construction, rehabilitation, equipment upgrades and expansion of grocery stores, small food retailers, and innovative food retail projects in historically marginalized communities.
Food acts as a common thread between history and culture, neighborhood empowerment and economic sustainability, and healthier lifestyles. The VFAIF program has been developed using the Equitable Food-Oriented Development model, a development strategy that uses food and agriculture to create economic opportunities and healthy neighborhoods and that explicitly seeks to build community assets, pride, and power by and with historically marginalized communities.
For the purposes of this program, historically marginalized communities are defined as minority or underserved, as well as those experiencing low food access. In these communities, the objectives of this program are to:
- improve access to fresh foods and reduce food deserts across the Commonwealth;
- create wealth, support leadership, and improve access to capital in historically marginalized communities;
- assess, support and transform existing or potential businesses into sustainable community-owned businesses;
- foster innovative solutions that uplift and share successful food business models; and
- reduce food insecurity, strengthen food systems and improve health outcomes for historically marginalized communities.
The next VFAIF round is open from December 1st, 2021 to February 22nd, 2022. Grant documents are posted below. Please review the first round of funded projects and the Equitable Food Oriented Development Brown Paper.