On August 28, 2017 leaders from across the Commonwealth, along with national grocery and hunger advocates, gathered at FeedMore in Richmond to make the case for the establishment of the Virginia Grocery Investment Fund.
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Currently, 1.7 million Virginians, including 480,000 children, live in low income areas with limited supermarket access. In these areas, Virginians cannot access fresh produce, lean meats, and other nutritious food products. This has real health and economic consequences.
The Virginia Grocery Investment Fund, which will be proposed during the upcoming 2018 session of the General Assembly, aims to proactively address the critical and growing problem of "food deserts" in the Commonwealth. The Fund will be a means by which to establish public-private partnerships that will help grocery stores locate in these areas, and help Virginians access healthy, nutritious foods in their communities.
State Senator Bill Stanley, who will carry legislation to create the Fund, noted, "Over the years grocery stores have left communities due to factors unrelated to customer demand. We can foster greater revitalization by helping grocery stores and other innovative food retail projects get up and running in these communities. I believe in supporting small businesses, creating jobs, and improving people's access to healthy foods. The Virginia Grocery Investment Fund will enhance the free market by serving communities that currently lack access, not demand. A win-win-win for Virginia's economy."
Additionally, Delegate Delores McQuinn, a longtime advocate for food access, stated, "Every day many people in Virginia face challenges of food insecurity and limited access to healthy foods when there are food deserts in their community. The campaign to create the Virginia Grocery Investment Fund continues my efforts of informing and educating the public that this problem is real, but that we have a solution."
Show your support! Tell your state legislators you want to see the Virginia Grocery Investment Fund created in 2018.
Panel participants left to right: Doug Pick, FeedMore; Jim Allen, Honor Capital; Dorothy McAuliffe, First Lady of Virginia; Senator Bill Stanley, Moneta; Delegate Delores McQuinn, Richmond; James Wallace, Virginia Community Capital; Kristen Suokko, Local Food Hub.