Legislation establishing the Virginia Food Access Investment Fund (VFAIF) has survived the halfway mark of the General Assembly and appears to have a clear path to success.
HB 1509 (McQuinn) and SB 1073 (McClellan) create the Virginia Food Access Investment Program and Fund, which will provide funding for the construction, rehabilitation, equipment upgrades, or expansion of grocery stores, small food retailers, and innovative food retail projects in underserved communities. The effort is a refreshed and revamped form of a bill Delegate Delores McQuinn has carried numerous times the past several years seeking to create the Virginia Grocery Investment Fund (VGIF). While the VGIF sought exclusively to provide funding for public-private partnerships that would aid in opening and expanding grocery stores in underserved communities (“food deserts”), the VFAIF has two components, one focusing on infrastructure and one focusing on nutrition efforts.
- Through a selected Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), the VFAIF will provide funding for the construction, rehabilitation, equipment upgrades, and/or expansion of grocery stores, small food retailers, and innovative small food retail projects in underserved communities.
- On the nutrition incentive side, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) of will partner with public and private sector partners to increase the number of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) retailers who participate in the Virginia Fresh Match Incentive Program. The Incentive Program provides SNAP recipients with a $1 to $1 match for nutritious fruits and vegetables.
VACo was proud to support and testify on behalf of these bills in subcommittee and committee hearings. SB 1073 unanimously passed the Senate on February 5 while HB 1509 passed the House on February 11. Each bill will now be heard by the other chamber where each should have similar success. Pending an appropriation in the 2021-2022 budget, the VFAIF seems poised to finally become law.
VACo Contact: Chris McDonald, Esq.