<img class="size-medium wp-image-42084 alignright" src="https:\/\/theenterprise.net\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/23\/2020\/12\/food_1608635007-300x200.jpg" alt="" width="300" height="200" \/>The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is currently accepting applications for the inaugural Virginia Agriculture Food Assistance (VAFA) program. The VAFA program reimburses Virginia farmers for the cost of harvesting, processing, packing and transporting agricultural products that are donated to charitable food assistance organizations.\r\n\r\n\u201cThe Virginia Agriculture Food Assistance Program will use our strengths in agriculture and food production to meet the needs of Virginia\u2019s food insecure families. By linking Virginia\u2019s farmers and growers to food banks and pantries, we can provide Virginia food for Virginia families who need it most,\u201d said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. \u201cThe program furthers our work through the Governor\u2019s Children\u2019s Cabinet and the strategies outlined in the Virginia Roadmap to End Hunger to increase access to healthy, Virginia Grown food for low-income individuals.\u201d\r\n\r\nVDACS is seeking proposals from charitable food assistance organizations with\u00a0plans that engage local farmers and growers\u00a0and clearly demonstrates how their project will benefit individuals and families who are food insecure.\u00a0In order for an organization to receive grant funding, they must\u00a0be registered as a 501 (c)(3) organization.\r\n\r\nThe\u00a0Virginia Agriculture Food Assistance Program and Fund is a result of Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn\u2019s\u00a0<a href="https:\/\/lis.virginia.gov\/cgi-bin\/legp604.exe?212+ful+HB2203ER">House Bill No. 2203<\/a>\u00a0and Senator Ghazala Hashmi\u2019s\u00a0<a href="https:\/\/lis.virginia.gov\/cgi-bin\/legp604.exe?212+ful+SB1188ER">Senate Bill No. 1188<\/a>, which were approved during the 2021 General Assembly first special session and signed into law by Governor Ralph Northam.\r\n\r\n\u201cWhile helping reduce food disparities in the state, the Virginia Agriculture Food Assistance program also encourages building assets, pride, and connections within local communities and local food systems,\u201d said Brad Copenhaver, VDACS Commissioner. \u201cThe program supports local agriculture by providing financial incentives to compensate producers for costs associated with donating local food, leveraging the Commonwealth\u2019s number one private sector industry, agriculture, to address food insecurity.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe VDACS will use a competitive review process to ensure maximum input and benefit for each application. Grant awards start at a minimum of $50,000. VDACS will notify successful and unsuccessful grant applicants of the outcome of the competitive process as it relates to the applicant\u2019s proposal.\r\n\r\nTo be considered for this grant opportunity, organizations must submit their VAFA program application no later than 5 p.m. on Wednesday, October 1, 2021. Applications may be emailed to\u00a0<a href="mailto:Seth.Benton@vdacs.virginia.gov">Seth.Benton@vdacs.virginia.gov<\/a>. Applications may also be mailed or delivered to Seth Benton\u2019s attention at: Oliver Hill Building, 102 Governor Street, Richmond VA 23219. Mailed applications must be postmarked by October 1.