RD709 - Virginia Food Access Investment Fund Annual Report – December 1, 2021

Executive Summary:

This report details the activities and accomplishments of the Virginia Food Access Investment Fund (Fund) and Virginia Food Access Investment Program (Program) covering the period from December 1, 2020, to November 30, 2021, 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 insecurity through a grant program aimed at encouraging grocery stores and other food retailers to address 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, and an additional $2 million was allocated for fiscal year (FY) 2021. A Program Coordinator was hired in January 2021 to administer the grant funds and provide technical assistance. The inaugural grant round opened on December 18, 2020, and closed on April 30, 2021. In May 2021, an evaluation committee recommended 15 applicants for VFAIF grant funding. The recommendations were approved, and Governor Northam announced the grant awardees on July 28, 2021.

Fiscal Year (FY) FY 2020 - Budget Allocation: $1,125,000
Fiscal Year (FY) FY 2021 - Budget Allocatino: $2,000,000

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

• Opened the inaugural grant round on December 18, 2020;

• Hired a Program Coordinator on January 25, 2021;

• Selected Virginia Community Capital (VCC) as the Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) to assist in administering the Program and carrying out the purposes of the Fund;

• Reviewed 52 total pre-proposals;

• Received 32 complete applications by April 30 deadline;

• Conducted 20 technical assistance phone calls for complete applications;

• Conducted six webinars;

• Formed and coordinated an Evaluation Committee to review applications and recommend projects for funding; and

• Coordinated the announcement of the 15 grant awardees by Governor Northam on July 28, 2021.