RD670 - Virginia Food Access Investment Fund Annual Report – December 1, 2020

Executive Summary:

The purpose of this report is to communicate the activities and accomplishments of the Virginia Food Access Investment Fund (Fund) and Virginia Food Access Investment Program (Program) covering the period from July 1, 2020, to December 1, 2020, as required by Chapters 956 and 957 of the 2020 Acts of Assembly. Chapters 956 and 957 established the Fund and the Program to combat food inequality through a grant program aimed at encouraging grocery stores and other food retailers to combat food deserts. Chapters 956 and 957 also required the establishment of an Equitable Food Oriented Development (EFOD) stakeholder work group to develop recommendations for design elements for the Program. A total of $1.25 million from the general fund was allocated to VDACS in the 2020 biennial budget to operate the Program consistent with the provisions of Chapters 956 and 957. No expenditures were made prior to December 1, 2020, and no projects have been funded. It is anticipated that the first round of grants will be awarded from the Fund in spring 2021.

Fiscal Year (FY) FY 2021 - Budget Allocation: $1,125,000
Fiscal Year (FY) FY 2022 - Budget Allocation: $125,000

Significant activities for the Fund and Program during this reporting period include the following:

• Convened the required EFOD stakeholder work group, which was comprised of legislators, community leaders, and professionals with experience in food access and food security;

• Developed a set of guidelines for the Program to provide grants funding the construction, rehabilitation, equipment upgrades, or expansion of grocery stores, small food retailers, or innovative food retail projects in underserved communities.

• Initiated the process to hire a Program Coordinator; and

• Created a Request for Proposal for a Certified Development Financial Institute to partner with to assist in administering the Program and carrying out the purposes of the Fund.