The Path to Creating Sustainable, Resilient Food Systems
Creating innovative models around food sustainability and distribution is critical to building a resilient world.
Reos Partners supports advances in food security, helping our partners identify groundbreaking approaches, build successful collaborations, and drive lasting results.
Our proven methodologies help guide food system innovators to enact practical solutions and build replicable models to chart a new course for equitable and resilient food systems.
Below, explore a selection of our partners and projects in this area.
Examples of Our Work on Sustainable Food Systems
Sustainable Food Lab:
Establishing Replicable Sustainable Food Systems
Challenge: The food system relies on long-distance, impractical, wasteful supply chains centered around industrial agriculture. To feed the population of the future, we need to build a more sustainable food system by creating and demonstrating mainstream supply chains that are resilient, sustainable, and market-based.
Partnership: Launched in 2004, the Sustainable Food Lab (SFL) is a non-profit organization co-initiated by Reos Partners and the Sustainability Institute. The Food Lab was developed to bring corporations, non-governmental organizations, and governments together to accelerate the incorporation of environmental, economic, and social sustainability into the DNA of the mainstream food and agricultural system. Reos Partners and the Sustainability Institute provided leadership, process design, and facilitation from SFL’s conception in 2002 through the end of its first phase in 2007.
Outcomes: Today, SFL offers a variety of forward-thinking initiatives that help organizations create more sustainable food systems. It offers professional development opportunities, measurement tools, and pre-competitive collaborations. SFL partners with food companies, non-profit organizations, and other stakeholders in farming systems. By fostering unlikely partnerships with businesses and farming systems, they effectively help implement large-scale sustainability innovations in the mainstream food system.
The Bypass Project:
Reimagining a Local Food Supply Chain for Underserved Communities in the U.S.
Challenge: Across the U.S., people in underserved communities often lack reliable, affordable access to fresh, locally grown foods. At the same time, local growers are distanced from the people who benefit from the food they produce.
Partnership: In 2021, Reos Partners supported Red Tomato, a nonprofit food hub in the Northeast U.S., to build a reimagined supply chain that distributes food directly from local growers to underserved communities. The organization established a farm-to-consumer direct supply chain that ensures food security and resiliency in two of Connecticut’s most significant food deserts. By bypassing retailers, Red Tomato brings fresh, affordable local food to people in need while providing a fair income to farmers.
Outcomes: In the first year of the program, known as the Bypass Project, Red Tomato delivered more than $25,000 of fresh, locally grown food from over 20 farms to underserved communities. Red Tomato Executive Director Angel Mendez says the project has received praise from communities and growers alike. Red Tomato’s goal is to develop a baseline supply chain model that can be applied in other parts of the region and eventually across the country, solidifying a new direct market for local growers.
Southern Africa Food Lab:
A Commitment to Food Security in Southern Africa
Challenge: The people of Southern Africa face severe hunger for interrelated reasons, including environmental, health, economic, socio-political, and agro-food issues. The founders of the Southern Africa Food Lab (SAFL) felt frustrated with the fragmented way in which complex issues of food insecurity were being tackled and wanted to foster more creative responses to hunger in the region.
Partnership: Launched in 2009, the SAFL is an action-oriented Social Lab that aims to enhance food security and promote creative responses to address the hunger crises in Southern Africa using multistakeholder dialogue and action. Under the guidance of Reos Partners, SAFL brings together diverse stakeholders to respond to systemic issues and inspire change.
Outcomes: By creating a platform for communication and innovation, the Lab has driven collaboration, awareness, and meaningful action. The Lab uses collaborative learning and facilitation approaches to develop a shared understanding of food security issues and ideate solutions to create a more just and sustainable system. SAFL notably received international recognition in 2018 by the UN’s 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production patterns within their Sustainable Food Systems Program.
Urban Laboratory of Food Policies:
A Collaborative Platform to Transform Brazil’s Food Systems
Challenge: In Brazil, more than 50% of the population experiences some degree of food insecurity. Given Brazil’s dense urban areas, cities need support to build healthy, resilient, equitable, and sustainable food systems that benefit people and the planet.
Partnership: To improve access to affordable healthy food, the Urban Laboratory for Food Public Policies in Brazil, known as LUPPA, aims to support small and medium-sized cities to develop food policies, enabling them to achieve healthy food systems for their inhabitants. LUPPA offers a collaborative platform to facilitate the construction of integrated, participatory municipal food policies with a systemic approach, inviting municipal governments and other actors in urban food systems to collaborate and share knowledge.
Outcomes: Reos Partners facilitated LUPPA’s first phase in 2021, which convened stakeholders representing local governments and local food councils from more than 20 Brazilian cities. Participants worked together to develop action plans to transform their local food system. Ten cities were selected to be mentored and receive support to develop their action plans. The initial phase of LUPPA demonstrated the need for collaboration. By working together and exchanging learnings and ideas, LUPPA proved cities can contribute to greater systemic change.
Metropolitan Agriculture Innoversity:
Bridging the Gap Between Agriculture and Cities Across the World
Challenge: The question of how to develop more sustainable relationships between agriculture and the city involves many stakeholders. Day-to-day life in cities is generally disconnected from nature and ecological processes, yet like all of us, urban populations rely upon nature for access to healthy food.
Partnership: The Metropolitan Agriculture Innoversity (MetroAg Innoversity), conceived and developed in 2009 by TransForum and Reos Partners, is a multi-stakeholder platform to support action-learning experiments around urban agricultural systems. The program explores how to develop more sustainable relationships between agriculture and cities.
Outcomes: For 18 months, MetroAg Innoversity convened in six cities around the world: Amsterdam, Chennai, Detroit, Johannesburg, London, and São Paulo. Participants reflected on the unique agricultural challenges their cities face, identified the most important areas for action, and brainstormed how they could best leverage their collective experience to influence the transformation needed to develop sustainable food systems in their cities. The Innoversity served as a network for sharing and co-creating knowledge and experience. At a global summit in Rotterdam in 2010, the teams gathered to showcase their work and expand their collective knowledge and ideas.
Food Lab Videos
See the scenarios examining possible futures of the food system in South Africa.
Learn more about LUPPA and hear from the participants what they thought of the lab.
Learn more about the Sustainable Food Lab from various stakeholders.