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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. The presentation found here will provide background on the program and how to apply. Additional resources, including the grant application, can be found below.

Learn more about the VFAIF program on 4/2 at 10 am:
Join webinar as an attendee: VFAIF Information Session
Event Event number (access code): 185 715 1316
Event Password: VFAIF42

To join the audio conference only:
+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.


Sara Santa Cruz
Coordinator, Virginia Food Access Investment Fund

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