Cover photo for Virginia Food Access Investment Fund Grants

Virginia Food Access Investment Fund Grants (VFAIF)

Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Closed December 16, 2023

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 low-income, low-access 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 low-income, low-access communities.

For the purposes of this program, historically low-income, low-access communities are defined as minority or low-income, low-access, 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, support leadership, and improve access to capital in historically low-income, low-access communities;

  • 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 low-income, low-access communities.


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 trucks

  • 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

Mandatory Requirements

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

  • Be located in the Commonwealth of Virginia

  • Have a retail component where consumers can purchase fresh meats, seafood, dairy, produce, and/or healthy food options

  • Directly serve residents within low-income, low-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


Prioritization will be given to projects that meet the following criteria: 

  • The entity receiving funds is owned or substantially led by individuals from low-income, low-access communities, or is working in an active, ongoing partnership with these individuals, which must include shared leadership, decision-making, resources, and/or shared economic benefit

  • Integrate community culture and artistic expression in the business model and/or customer experience

  • 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. 

Application Instructions

To apply, applicants must first complete the pre-proposal document and schedule a call with VDACS program staff using this calendly link. Following that call, the application will complete a full application.

It is required that all VFAIF applicants attend one "How to Apply" webinar. Select one from the dates on the bottom of this page.

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.



December 16, 2023

Financial Instrument


Minimum Award Amount


Maximum Award Amount


Updated March 26, 2024

Image Credit: Nathalia Segato

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