Virginia

Federal Policy Efforts (State-specific)

Total Action For Progress

Total Action For Progress (TAP), formerly Total Action Against Poverty in Roanoke Valley, is using HFFI financing to support a three-pronged economic development program that includes: comprehensive pre- and post-loan technical assistance and business development services, access to employment and training for participants who employ low-income or TANF participants, and a revolving loan fund for new or expanding services. You can find more information here.

Source of money: HFFI CED Program

Virginia Community Capital, Inc.

Virginia Community Capital is using its HFFI financing to expand residents’ access to healthy foods by financing grocery stores in Virginia’s food deserts. The award will build upon VCC’s existing Virginia Fresh Food Loan Fund (VFFLF), launched in 2013, which facilitates healthy food enterprises in communities throughout Virginia. You can find more information here.

Source of money: HFFI CDFI-Financial Assistance Program

State & Local Policy Efforts

Virginia Fresh Food Loan Fund

Virginia Community Capital (VCC) is a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and bank that serves the entire commonwealth of Virginia. In 2013, VCC launched the Virginia Fresh Food Loan Fund (VFFLF) to enhance access to nutritious foods in Virginia’s inner cities, small towns and rural communities. As a CDFI, VCC supports small businesses and community development projects by offering flexible capital, investment opportunities and advisory services. With a commitment to finance $10 million in projects through the VFFLF, VCC works with a wide range of healthy food enterprises, including grocery stores, food hubs, healthy food manufacturers and processors, mobile markets, farmers markets and food cooperatives.

Two years after VFFLF was established, VCC received a $2.6 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Treasury CDFI Fund, which included $1 million in grant funds from the federal Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI). This grant allowed VCC to enhance its investment in healthy food projects serving lower-income, underserved communities throughout Virginia.

VCC works closely with various state agencies, including the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Forestry. VCC also serves on the Commonwealth Council on Bridging the Nutritional Divide and partners with the American Heart Association and The Food Trust to secure state funds to help launch a public-partnership dedicated to improving food access. Additionally, VCC is a member of Reinvestment Fund’s ReFresh Initiative, a national network of practitioners engaged to improve access to healthy food across the United States.

Virginia Grocery Investment Fund: Closer to My Grocer Campaign

Efforts to improve food access in Virginia have been underway for several years. In 2012 and 2013, Delegate  Delores  McQuinn introduced House Joint Resolu­tions to direct the  General Assembly to examine the issue of food deserts. In 2013, the Virginia General Assembly commissioned Virginia Tech and Virginia State University to lead a Food Desert Task Force to study the issue. In 2014, Governor McAuliffe signed Executive Order 34 to create the Commonwealth Council on Bridging the Nutritional Divide, chaired by First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe.

Shortly after, as part of the Voices for Healthy Kids initiative, the local American Heart Association affiliate began working on an advocacy campaign for state investment in a healthy food financing initiative. They partnered with The Food Trust to create a mapping report illustrating areas with the greatest need for improved healthy food access across Virginia. Prior to the 2016 General Assembly session, they formed the Closer to My Grocer Coalition, made up of leaders from the business and health sectors, children’s advocacy groups, localities, grocery industry experts and others. The coalition seeks to establish the Virginia Grocery Investment Fund, to provide financing to grocers to encourage them to develop or renovate markets in lower-income, underserved areas.

In December 2015, Governor McAuliffe included $10 million in his budget for the Virginia Grocery Investment Fund. During session, the Senate appropriated $2.5 million for a pilot program, but the House of Delegates did not include any funding for it in their budget. Therefore, the final 2016- 2018  biennium  budget  did  not  include  any funding for  the program. Advocates are continuing to call for state investment in a fund that will increase access to healthy food retail in communities that need it most.

For a full understanding of Healthy Food Financing Initiatives from advocacy to implementation, see The Food Trust’s Healthy Food Financing Handbook.

To find examples of other federal, state, and local policy efforts and initiatives -- as well as financing opportunities -- by going to Find Money & Policy Efforts by State.