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Press Releases

October 11, 2022
VDACS Announces $120,000 in Virginia Food Access Investment Fund Awards
Funding supports four projects across Virginia to improve retail fresh food access in underserved communities
Contact: Michael Wallace

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) announced today that four projects will receive a total of $120,000 in grant funding today from the Virginia Food Access Investment Fund (VFAIF). The VFAIF grants were awarded to a mix of businesses and non-profit organizations to help expand retail fresh food access to underserved communities.

“Ending food insecurity is a major priority of Governor Glenn Youngkin’s administration,” said VDACS Commissioner Joseph Guthrie. “Through the VFAIF grant program, we are partnering with innovative, dedicated businesses and organizations to help build strong, resilient food supply chains and improve access to nutritious, safe, affordable foods for all Virginians.”

Established in 2020, the VFAIF program awards grants of up to $50,000 per project to support the development or expansion of grocery stores, small food retailers, and innovative food retail projects that increase access to fresh foods in low-income, low-access communities. VFAIF funded projects must have a retail component, accept federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and participate in the Virginia Fresh Match nutrition incentives program. Virginia Fresh Match helps people access healthy and affordable food by doubling the value of their SNAP dollars when buying Virginia grown fruits and vegetables.

The following is a detail of the projects receiving VFAIF grant funding this round:

Broad Rock Farmers Market
The non-profit Caring and Sharing Foundation will receive funding to expand an existing farmers market in the Broad Rock neighborhood of Richmond. Through this project, the Broad Rock Farmers Market, which launched in May 2021 with 2 local produce farmers averaging 100 weekly visitors, will expand to 15 vendors and more than 1,000 weekly visitors from the surrounding neighborhoods. Funds will support a part-time market manager and provide produce vendors with minimum sales guarantees, with purchased produce made available for sale to community residents throughout the week.

Hampton Roads Urban Agriculture
Hampton Roads Urban Agriculture (HRUA) operates an urban farm at the Zion Baptist Church in Newport News and offers a weekly SNAP-enabled farmers market. Additionally, HRUA offers multiple programs to engage youth and adult community members in its efforts to increase access to fresh food. VFAIF funding will help purchase a cooler for produce storage and aggregation, enabling the sale of fresh foods from the farm to community members throughout the week.

Norfolk Food Ecosystem
The St. Paul’s Community Development Corporation established the Norfolk Food Ecosystem in 2021 to bring fresh food to a Norfolk food desert through the Park Avenue Market. This innovative retail model will supply fresh products to a number of stores in the City via a small urban warehouse, which was supported by a VFAIF grant in 2021. The current round of funding furthers its implementation through the support of the Fresh Food Pharmacy Program and investments into retail infrastructure.

Slade Naturals
Slade Naturals is a food retailer in Surry County that was established by a member of Slade Family Farms. VFAIF funding will support improvements to the retail store and outreach efforts to better connect the underserved community of Surry County with the locally grown food sold at the market. VFAIF funds will allow the business to add cold storage capacity, expand produce aggregation, purchase a new point-of-sale system to handle the increased SNAP and Virginia Fresh Match transactions, and extend store operating hours.

Businesses and non-profit entities seeking to expand sales of access to fresh food in low-income, low-access communities are encouraged to apply for the next VFAIF grant round which begins on November 1, 2022. Click here to access grant applications, key grant round dates, and for more information.

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