Virginia Food Access Investment Fund moves forward

January 30, 2020

Delegate Delores McQuinn’s Virginia Food Access Investment Fund (VFAIF) cleared its first hurdle Wednesday evening, surviving the Agriculture Subcommittee of the House Agriculture, Chesapeake, and Natural Resources Committee.

HB 1509 (McQuinn) creates the Virginia Food Access Investment Program and Fund 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 McQuinn has carried numerous times the last 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 stories in underserved communities (so-called “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.

HB 1509 reported out of subcommittee by a vote of 7-1 and will now be referred to the House Appropriations Committee. The bill’s senate counterpart, SB 1073 (McClellan), will be heard today in the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee.

VACo was pleased to speak on behalf of HB 1509 and will continue to support the VFAIF in future hearings.

VACo Contact: Chris McDonald, Esq.

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