FREDERICKSBURG, Va. (AP) — A Virginia county is using almost $800,000 in federal funds to help families in need get something to eat at locally owned restaurants.

Stafford County is using a Community Developments Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide $200 restaurant vouchers to each of the county’s 3,900 Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipient families, The Free Lance-Star of Fredericksburg reported.

John Holden, Stafford’s director of economic development, said that although the program was officially announced by the county on Tuesday, distribution of gift certificates will not begin until after Jan. 1. Andrew Spence, director of community engagement, said restaurant owners can begin applying to take part in the program Feb. 15 at

Locally owned, independent restaurants will have priority, followed by corporate franchises owned by Stafford residents. Customer seating is a requirement to be eligible for the program, eliminating businesses such as fuel stations and convenience stores that sell food in addition to other products.

“This is a most exciting win–win for our community,” said Supervisor Meg Bohmke. “These residents have struggled since March, and hopefully this will bring them some joy.”