OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Local food systems: how to build a local sustainable food system in a metropolitan region?

A virtuous circle that reduces the environmental impact of food system and promotes the economic integration of vulnerable people.

Photo of Nuria Chaim
3 9

Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

Associação Prato Cheio

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small NGO (under 50 employees)

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

Instituto Cristão de Ensino e Cultura (InCEC)

Website of Legally Registered Entity

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 10+ years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

São Paulo

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?


Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

In a neighborhood within the city of São Paulo, called Vila Mariana.

What country is your selected Place located in?


Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

Associação Prato Cheio has been operating in the city of São Paulo for 19 years, in different neighborhoods, including the Vila Mariana neighborhood. And our headquarters is in the Consolação neighborhood, next to the region where we are proposing the development of the pilot project. Incec is a partner of Prato Cheio and has its headquarters in the Vila Mariana neighborhood, close to the community (favela) Mário Cardim, target audience of the project.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

The space where we are proposing the development of the pilot project has challenging characteristics. The Vila Mariana neighborhood is an upper middle class neighborhood located in an upscale region of São Paulo - close to Av. Paulista, and is where the community (favela) of Mário Cardim has been located for over 40 years, with around 500 families and more than 2,000 residents. It is an area of poverty and exclusion embedded in a noble part of Vila Mariana, surrounded by high-end buildings and houses. Associação Prato Cheio, which is based in the neighboring neighborhood, already collects and donates food in Vila Mariana and has great experience in conducting training and culinary workshops. And close to this community is located our partner, Incec, which has infrastructure for the development of the project and already works with vulnerable local populations. In addition, the neighborhood has an excellent structure of commerce and services, in addition to being easily accessible, which favors the proposal of economic and social insertion of vulnerable population.

Vila Mariana is a district located in the south-central zone of the municipality of São Paulo. Its striking feature is that it is a predominantly middle class region with a commercial and residential profile.
Vila Mariana can be considered one of the most developed regions in the capital of São Paulo, and this is confirmed in the numbers. The region's average income is around R $ 3600 (US $ 860) per month, almost three times the municipal average of around R $ 1300 (US $ 308).

The region's economy is very strong, not only due to the high standard of living of its residents, but also because it houses the initial stretch of Avenida Paulista, the most important street in the city and financial center of the state and the country.

 As it is an urban and densely populated region, it has no agricultural production area. On the other hand, it has a large volume of food trade.

What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?


Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

Food systems refer to the different ways in which food consumed in cities is produced, processed, distributed and sold. Most of the resources used by a city come and are produced in locations outside the borders of cities. And food is no different.

Urbanization has brought changes in the food system (changes in production, distribution, consumption and control of food) in such a way that it no longer allows the food system to be perceived as the simple movement of products from the farm to the table. Today, food is produced on a large scale, supplying long, extensive and sophisticated supply chains that mainly supply processed foods to urban consumers.

The long chains from production to food distribution to serve a growing urban population have among their challenges the issue of food waste. And it is one of the points that this project intends to work on.

Strategies to reduce food losses and waste are seen as opportunities to improve the efficiency of the food system and thus achieve sustainable food security.

Studies indicate that the reduction of food losses and waste can play a substantial role in achieving food security and mitigating climate change. The global food system is subject to conflicting pressures to supply the food demanded by an expanding and increasingly wealthy population, while striving to achieve environmental sustainability.

Therefore, the proposal that we will face in the future is the search for an efficient food system that is capable of facing both food security and environmental sustainability issues.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

We intend to give a practical answer to the challenges presented above. Uniting the actions of two organizations: a food bank and a social assistance organization, we propose a new form of organization of the local food system that promotes not only the improvement of the efficiency of the food system and reduces food losses and wastes, but that also socially and economically reintroduce the region's vulnerable population.

Our proposal seeks to give a new perspective on life to people who are in a situation of social vulnerability. Entrepreneurship courses combined with culinary workshops for the full use of food will be instruments to promote not only the economic reintegration of these groups, but to restore self-esteem and help to awaken the potential of each one.

The culinary workshops that will be promoted by Associação Prato Cheio - and the use of food from the collections made by this Association in these workshops - aim to awaken to the need to generate businesses that are environmentally responsible.

Prato Cheio promotes the reinsertion of fruits and vegetables in the food system. Reinsertion of food that would be discarded by supermarkets (because they are out of standard, very ripe, or with small defects) are usually discarded. This work generates economic and environmental gains for all links in the food chain. And it also has an important educational aspect, which is the awareness of each one's role in reducing food waste and responsible consumption.

 The workshops on Integral Use of Food will be an important tool in this process. The workshops will also be important for the rescue of traditional family recipes (reinforcing family and cultural ties), in addition to valuing the food culture of those who come from other states in Brazil, promoting exchange and cultural appreciation.

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

The purpose of this work is to give a new perspective on life to people who are in a situation of social vulnerability. Training courses, entrepreneurship classes, culinary workshops, are instruments to promote not only the economic reintegration of these groups, but also to promote the recovery of self-esteem and the awakening of each person's potential.

The recovery of dignity, both through income generation and through social integration has a high social impact, promoting the formation of united, understood, welcomed and noticed groups, with gains in physical, emotional and psychological health, making them citizens potentialized in their social integration capacities.

In addition, culinary workshops with the theme Fully Utilizing Food, using inputs from Prato Cheio's collection work and educational lectures, highlight another aspect of this project, which is promoting the economy with respect for the environment.

We want, by promoting this initiative, to consolidate a local food production and distribution system based on:

-the use of food that would be wasted by the food retailer (supermarkets, markets, industries, bakeries) as the main productive input.

-the economic insertion of people in situations of social vulnerability so that they are able to do business in the culinary area.

In the end, we want to promote a sustainable local food system that promotes the reintegration of fruits and vegetables that would be wasted and also promotes the economic and social reintegration of people in vulnerable situation.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

There is a worldwide effort by both the government and the private sector and organized civil society aimed at reducing food losses and waste. A milestone of this effort is the commitment made explicit in one of the goals of the Sustainable Development Goals, goal 12.3 of Goal 12 “Ensuring sustainable production and consumption patterns” of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG): “By 2030, cut in half global food waste per capita, at retail and consumer levels, and reducing food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses (UN, 2015).

Losses and waste of food reduce the availability of food and, therefore, can impair consumer access due to the increase in food prices. They also represent an inefficiency of food systems, with useless consumption of natural, human resources, energy and inputs, unnecessary emission of greenhouse gases and direct generation of organic waste, which could be avoided. According to José Graziano (former director general of the FAO-UN), “Losses and food waste represent an important picture of the inefficiency of our food systems.”

The need to improve the efficiency of food systems is justified by the necessary reduction of pressure on natural resources in agricultural production, in view of the limit in the growth of agricultural production income and the finding that around 1.3 billion tons of food are lost or wasted every year in the world. The environmental footprint resulting from losses and waste is impressive: annual emission of 3.3 billion tons of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere, use of 1.4 billion hectares of agricultural land and expenditure of 250 km3 of fresh water.

There are several strategies for reducing food losses and waste in food systems. In several countries, policies and programs have been adopted that seek solutions to reduce losses and waste from production to distribution and consumption. Donation incentive laws, such as the Good Samaritan Law in the United States and the Law that prohibits the destruction of food suitable for consumption in France, tax incentive laws for donors, awareness campaigns, investment in research and new technologies are some strategies for reducing losses and waste. In Brazil, the theme was part of the Food and Nutrition Security Plan of 2016-2019, there are bills in progress and a Technical Committee specialized in Losses and Waste of Food in the Interministerial Security Chamber for Food and Nutrition (Caisan).

Food banks are also an intervention strategy to reinsert food that still has consumption conditions and thus reduce food losses and waste in the food system. Food banks are physical and / or logistical structures that offer the service of capturing and / or receiving and distributing free foodstuffs from donations from the private and / or public sectors and which are directed to various social, health, educational and health institutions, among others. They are structures that capture foodstuffs that have lost their commercial value, but are still in good condition for consumption. Banks seek to reinsert food that would be wasted along the chain in the food system. And so promoting food security especially for people in situation of social vulnerability.

In addition to contributing to improving the food security situation by increasing the availability of food to populations in situations of social vulnerability, food banks are indispensable allies in actions to reduce solid waste, especially in relation to the disposal of organic materials, such as food. According to a FAO publication, each year, the decomposition of food produced and not consumed is responsible for the emission of 3.3 billion tons of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

This project, however, intends to go further. Based on the daily reality of two organizations: Associação Prato Cheio and Incec, we intend to transform the reality of a population that lives in an environment of social exclusion through the promotion of a sustainable local food system. And so inspire other neighborhoods and other communities in big cities to adopt creative transformative strategies.

Generating income from food that would be wasted is a way to promote a sustainable food system locally and give vulnerable populations a new economic and social opportunity. We intend to generate a virtuous circle that promotes food security, reduces the environmental impact of the food system and promotes economic and social insertion as well as the recovery of the self-esteem of vulnerable population.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Website

Attachments (1)


Anual Activity Report (2018) - Associação Prato Cheio


Join the conversation:

Photo of Carina Mattievich


Photo of Langit Collective

Hi Nuria look forward to the development of your initiative. Do drop by our vision Eve: Kuala Lumpur's local food ecosystem and perhaps share some of your thoughts.

Photo of Nuria Chaim

Hi Langit, thaks for the message! I´ll check it out. Thank you!