The Virginia Grocery Investment Fund (VGIF) has effectively been killed for the year, as neither the House nor Senate budget proposals released February 3 included funding for the program.
The VGIF sought to solve the growing problem of “food deserts” across the Commonwealth and aimed to provide greater access to fresh, nutritious foods to the 1.7 million Virginians (including 480,000 children) who live in low-income communities with limited supermarket access. Through the creation of a public-private partnership leveraging state dollars with private money, the VGIF will provide one-time, low-interest loans to encourage grocers to open or renovate stores in underserved communities.
Senator Bill Stanley’s and Senator Rosalyn Dance’s VGIF bill, SB 999 (Stanley), passed the Senate unanimously on January 24 before being referred to the House Appropriations Committee. Even before the budget proposals were announced, SB 999 faced great odds, as the Appropriations Committee quickly killed Delegate Delores McQuinn’s VGIF bill, HB 1858 (McQuinn), earlier this session. Now, with no funding for the VGIF proposed, SB 999 is effectively dead on arrival.
While the VGIF may have met the same fate this year as it did in 2018, both Senator Stanley and Delegate McQuinn are likely to continue to pursue this idea and reintroduce legislation in 2020.
VACo Contact: Chris McDonald, Esq.