After years of effort, the Virginia Food Access Investment Fund (VFAIF) has finally been approved and funded by the General Assembly.
The VFAIF is designed to 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 and numerous other lawmakers have introduced 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.
- 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) will team up 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.
Delegate McQuinn’s legislation as well as Senator Jennifer McClellan’s Senate counterpart bill each saw broad support in the General Assembly. Both HB 1509 (McQuinn) and SB 1073 (McClellan) passed the House and Senate by wide margins and are now ready to be signed into law by the Governor. In the final budget proposal voted on March 12, the General Assembly agreed to fund the VFAIF with $1,125,000 in FY 2021 and an additional $125,000 in FY 2022.
VACo is proud to have supported this legislation and is grateful to Delegate McQuinn and Senator McClellan for all their hard work in making the VFAIF a reality.
VACo Contact: Chris McDonald, Esq.