Virginia Food Access Investment Fund (VFAIF) Application Form

Deadline: April 30th 2021

Virginia Food Access Investment Fund (VFAIF) Application Form

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 (EFOD), 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.
VFAIF is administered by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
(VDACS) in partnership with a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), which is yet to be determined.


The VFAIF program is a unique opportunity that is focused on historically marginalized
communities. Specifically, VFAIF and EFOD are focused on vulnerable communities, including BIPOC and low-income individuals who have been disproportionally affected by unequal investment and growth, including a lack of access to capital.
To meet the goals of EFOD, applicants for the VFAIF program who are BIPOC owned or led, or  who work in partnership with BIPOC individuals or entities, will be prioritized. Applicants may be individuals, farms, nonprofits, organizations (faith-based or others), or for-profit businesses.
Eligible projects include the business development, construction, rehabilitation, equipment
upgrades, or expansion of:
 Grocery stores that primarily sell meat, seafood, fruits, vegetables, dairy products, dry
groceries, household products, sundries, and healthy food options
 Innovative food retail projects such as mobile markets or delivery models, including food
 Small food retailers, such as small-scale stores, neighborhood stores, small groceries,
farmers’ markets, or corner stores
 Small, limited resource or socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers; small, limited
resource or socially disadvantaged farm co-ops, community gardens, restaurants or cafes
with a direct food retail component or in partnership with a qualified food retailer, food
hub, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Community Supported
Agriculture (CSA), and/or farm stand
Eligible uses of funding may include, but are not limited to, seed money or funds for implementation, such as site development or the purchase of equipment.
VFAIF will not fund stand-alone business entities without a food retail component or food retail partner, traditional food banks/food pantries, or the purchase of land.

Projects must meet the following requirements to be considered for funding:

 Have a retail component where consumers can purchase fresh meats, seafood, dairy,
produce, and/or healthy food options
 Be owned or substantially run by BIPOC leadership or be working with a BIPOC-run
organization in an active, ongoing partnership, which must include shared leadership,
decision-making, resources, and/or shared economic benefit
 Directly serve residents within underserved, low food access communities
 Demonstrate a history of community engagement, work in the community, and
community support for the project
 Accept SNAP benefits and offer Virginia Fresh Match incentives
 Purchase a minimum of 25% of fresh products from Virginia’s small, beginning, limited
resource, Veteran, and/or socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers (as designated by
Prioritization will be given to projects that meet the following criteria:
 Provide customer access, either by providing/coordinating transportation to the business
or by providing a mobile market component that brings products to the community
 Integrate community culture and artistic expression in the business model
 Develop new markets and enterprises, creating real and sustainable economic
 Provide a path for financial sustainability and positive outcomes to the community,
including education, leadership and youth development, employment of community
residents, job training, or workforce development
 Demonstrate success in creating partnerships and/or efforts to leverage additional
funding. Include a defined plan to create partnerships that allow the business to offset the
cost of products sold to the consumer.


Grant award amounts will range from $5,000 to $50,000 per project, per year. Successful projects may apply for additional funding in subsequent years upon completion of the previous project (for instance, an applicant could receive $10,000 to purchase refrigeration in year one and then apply for $50,000 to expand processing capability in year two).

Virginia Food Access Investment Fund (VFAIF) Application Process

To apply, applicants must first complete the pre-proposal and schedule a call with VDACS
program staff, followed by completion of the application. The grant review committee will
review the application and assessment. Upon determining that the project meets the VFAIF
criteria, the review committee will schedule an interview to discuss the project. Applicants
should identify local community member(s) who can speak to the applicant’s community
engagement and work in the community and who can provide community support for the project plan. Successful applications will show a clear vision and plan, including a timeline and deliverables; will have a comprehensive budget; and will demonstrate a path to financial sustainability or profitability.

For more Information: Visit the webpage for Virginia Food Access Investment Fund (VFAIF)

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