The Local and Regional Food Systems Resilience Playbook

A Primer for Food System Leaders on Local and Regional Food Systems Strengths and Vulnerabilities in Times of Disruption

About the Playbook

The Local and Regional Food Systems (LRFS) Resilience Playbook is a collaborative effort between university-based researchers, LRFS leaders, and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) local and regional food systems experts. The Playbook is designed to support food systems leaders seeking to broaden and deepen their understanding of the distinct strengths and vulnerabilities of LRFS in times of disruption. It is meant to be part primer, part inspirational guide that aims to provide sufficient examples and context to help readers consider and envision what resilience looks like in their own food systems following a disaster.

The Playbook seeks to respond to the question, “What can LRFS stakeholders do to learn from experience and ‘stay ready’ for when the next food system disruption occurs?” Grounded in examples of real-time adaptation and resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Resilience Playbook grew into a web-based resource providing frameworks, strategies, and real-life examples to support and inspire LRFS leaders to create short, mid, and long-term approaches to equitable resilience. Created based on input and oversight from LRFS project partners, and an explicit desire for a practical, approachable, and actionable product, the Resilience Playbook highlights the diverse knowledge, resources, strategies and network connections leveraged by LRFS as they navigated their responses to COVID-19 and climate-related disruptions.

Communities with existing relationships, partnerships and regular channels of communication are best positioned to adapt when disaster or disruption strikes. While the playbook offers insights and distinct considerations from specific sectors of LRFS and types of disruptions, the primary purpose is to support leaders positioned to coordinate and mobilize disruption response.

The Resilience Playbook is intended as a “first stop” for community leaders who recognize the need to better understand how to both support and leverage LRFS in emergency response and recovery across sectors and scales. That includes policy makers and local governmental leaders coordinating community planning and response, LRFS sector leaders working to integrate and coordinate their stakeholders into those planning and response efforts, and partners from other key disaster response sectors and agencies looking to broaden engagement and deepen partnerships.

The Playbook provides many examples of LRFS sector-specific responses to disruption, offers guidance on how to convene a network of stakeholders to coordinate short and mid-term LRFS initiatives, and explores the different types of financial resources LRFS might leverage to support not only immediate disaster response, but also short- to long-term equitable resilience.

Centering Equity in Resilience

The Playbook seeks to center considerations of equity, diversity and inclusion. It includes a framework for equitable resilience, and details on why resilience is best conceived as an ongoing process, rather than a definitive outcome. The Playbooks offers principles that can serve as key points of reflection for any LRFS community seeking to build systems of relationship, resource allocation and response initiatives that build towards greater equity and resilience for all members of the food system. However, the work of centering equity, diversity and inclusion does not end there, and the Playbook integrates examples and insights that reflect the diversity of communities, expertise, and experience that make LRFS the resilient, invaluable, and vibrant systems for communities.

How to use The Playbook

If you are a Food Systems Leader who is interested in building cross sectoral connections and relationships, the Resilience Playbook’s Network Response Planning Tool found in the Equitable Response and Recovery section might be a useful tool to help you craft, promote, host, and manage calls connecting stakeholder networks before and during an emergency. The Playbook also offers opportunities for self-assessment through its Key Practices and Principles for Establishing Equitable Resilient Food Systems slide deck.

If you are a Disaster Response Professional who works outside of local and regional food systems, you can use the Resilience Playbook and its many case studies as an introduction to local food system market sectors and help think through how local and regional food systems can fill gaps during supply chain challenges  in disruption response.

If  you are a Individual Stakeholder thinking about the challenges and opportunities your business might face during a disruption, take a look at the many case studies found throughout the Resilience Playbook, and especially the LRFS Resilience Map to inspire innovative solutions. Additionally, the Funding Guide found in the Supporting Local and Regional Supply Chains section can help you identify funding sources, think through key considerations for common and best-fitting uses, time frames, administration, and funding scope.

If you are a Local Government or Policy Professional who coordinates community planning and disaster response, The Playbook offers an introduction to the complexities of local and regional food systems and can help you understand the opportunities and challenges felt by all of LRFS as well as additional insights into the distinct aspects of different, yet intersecting, market sectors.

If  you are a Food Studies Educator developing curriculum on local and regional food systems and looking to foster systems-thinking, use The Playbook as a dynamic short course on LRFS resilience. Each section can be used as a module to guide classroom discussion and the many case studies, videos, and other resources can provide the basis for student research projects. One idea is to design a class project based on the three pillars of resilience, having students identify examples of resilience in their local area. 

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We welcome any comments and feedback from local and regional food system stakeholders after using this resource. We also encourage you to use this space to share stories and ask questions.

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