Awards encourage businesses to meet demand for high quality and accessible food
In Shenandoah Valley, more than 5 percent of the working population is employed in food and drinks production, a key constituent of the thriving manufacturing industry in the region. While major companies take advantage of many of the Valley’s natural resources, the productive soils and abundant water sources also support smaller agricultural producers. The Governor of Virginia has recently introduced a new grant program with the aim of further encouraging more farms and other sustainable food systems. With the presentation of other local awards and funding, all local food suppliers can find support to grow their business and continue to provide everyone in the community with high quality produce.
Managing online orders and home deliveries
The results of this year’s food and drink awards for Shenandoah Valley were announced recently. The winners have had to adapt to restrictions, but, throughout the pandemic, restaurants, bars and stores have continued to provide their customers with delicious, locally made goods, using produce from farms, vineyards and breweries in the Valley. To ensure their customers are catered for without interruption, many businesses are providing curbside pickups, making home deliveries and increasing their capacity for online orders. For new and established outlets offering food delivery, the introduction of technology for online ordering and restaurant management can help them to keep up with the increased demand for take out food without compromising on quality and good service.
Increasing accessibility to fresh food
As well as the Infrastructure Program to encourage sustainable food production, the Governor of Virginia has also announced funding to support 15 agricultural projects that will increase accessibility to healthy, fresh food for all Virginians. In the first round of grants from the the Virginia Food Access Investment Fund, two stores will use the money to repair and upgrade their cooler systems, enabling them to meet growing customer demand for fresh food. Funding will also go to a mobile market that will be set up in previously underserved areas such as senior and low-income communities.
Helping small businesses to thrive
A French country inn at the heart of its local community has recently been awarded Small Business of the Year by The Lord Fairfax Small Business Development Center (LFSBDC). As well as rooms for an overnight stay, the inn serves five course meals of traditional French cuisine in its dining space. In addition to presenting an annual award to an individual business, The LFSBDC runs a grant funded program every year to support small businesses and entrepreneurs throughout Shenandoah Valley. The services on offer each year include free consultations for more than 450 businesses, funding for marketing and advertising campaigns, and financial and HR evaluations.
In a fertile region with abundant natural resources, farms and other sustainable food producers are thriving. With the added incentive of funding and awards, small businesses from specialty restaurants to unique food stores are able to expand, and can continue to supply everyone in the region with local, fresh and affordable produce.
Story by Katherine Watson