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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 and leadership in historically marginalized communities;
  • improve access to private capital for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) business owners;
  • 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.


FY 2021 Grant Round
The inaugural VFAIF grant round is currently open and will close on April 30, 2021. Please see the Frequently Asked Questions document below for additional information on how to apply. VDACS will host informational webinars for applicants on January 22 at 10 a.m. and on January 27 at 7 p.m. To participate, please use the following links:

January 22, 2021 at 10 a.m.  Event number (access code): 178 117 0678
Event password: xfYTwk2kP74


January 27, 2021 at 7 p.m. Event number (access code): 178 557 5111
Event password: dmRx47Fdaf3

To join either webinar with audio only, call the number below and enter the access code: 
+1-517-466-2023 US Toll
+1-866-692-4530 US Toll Free  


Please note: the first step of the application process is to submit a pre-proposal to VDACS program staff and schedule a call to discuss the proposed project. Applicants who have not previously been in contact with program staff at VDACS will not be considered in this grant round. This grant funding is only open to businesses in the Commonwealth of Virginia.


Jennifer Perkins
Project Manager, Office of Agriculture and Forestry Development

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