The Gamechangers Laboratory is the Wallace Center’s newest strategy to encourage systems leadership, collaboration, creativity, and innovation through the Food Systems Leadership Network.

Launched in July 2019, the Gamechangers Laboratory aims to catalyze breakthrough ideas, new approaches, and innovations for building community food security through community-based food systems.

In this first pilot year of the Laboratory, three selected teams are being guided and supported through a 6-month creative journey to design new strategies for tackling food insecurity through community-based food systems. Each team will receive $25,000 in direct financial support, monthly guidance and coaching from a dedicated Gamechangers Lab Advisor, and access to additional tailored Technical Assistance and experts in systems thinking and human-centered design to support their work.

At the end of the six-month design journey in March 2020, teams will present their game-changing ideas and their collective learning to a national audience and a group of potential funders at the 2020 National Good Food Network Conference, March 10-13, in New Orleans, Louisiana.

This initiative is made possible with the generous support of philanthropist-entrepreneur Ryan D. “Jume” Jumonville, who joined the Giving Pledge in February 2019. Jumonville’s company, United Networks of America, is a member of the Children’s Miracle Network “Miracle Million Club,” and he has provided significant support to a wide variety of causes around the world. See this press release for more information about Mr. Jumonville and the Gamechangers Lab.

Meet the Gamechanging Teams
We are excited to be partnering with three creative, courageous, and collaborative teams who are eager to experiment with us and discover new ways to ensure that all people in every community are nourished by good food.

Foodlink Community Health Programs Team
(Rochester, NY) -- Tom Silva, Florence Clemmons, and Margaret Liljedahl

Team Advisor: Livia Marques
Traditional food banking alone cannot fix the inequities in our food system. Foodlink's Community Health Team is seeking to transform the conventional model from community-based to community-driven and led, and explore how food banks can shift from social service to social change. This three-member team from Rochester, New York, with its community connections, innovative spirit, and history of collaboration is working in partnership with its Foodlink clients and community members to pilot new and lasting solutions. The Gamechangers Lab is guiding the team through its challenges, helping identify levers of change, and supporting the co-creation of action plans to democratize programs and invite community members into the driver’s seat of program design and impact.

GRRO Good Bowls Team (Henderson, NC)-- Henry & Ardis Crews, Lucette Mercer, Laura Fieselman and Alice Ammerman
Team Advisor: Daniel Ross
Rural North Carolina, once an agriculturally rich region with successful food and farming systems, has seen a rise in diet-related illnesses and food insecure homes and a simultaneous decline in meaningful and lasting economic opportunities. However, in 2018, North Carolina became the first state in the US to authorize the allocation of Medicaid funds towards the social determinants of health through its "Healthy Opportunities Pilots” program. The GRRO Good Bowls Team, with a history of seeking solutions for reducing food insecurity and diet-related illnesses while increasing community economic development in rural North Carolina, recognizes the potential that this pilot has in developing healthy and flourishing rural communities. Through the Gamechangers Lab, this five-member team of farmers, entrepreneurs, academics, and activists from Henderson County’s Green Rural Redevelopment Organization, Inc., Good Bowls LLC, and the University of North Carolina, is seeking to more deeply work through its community food system’s known – and unknown – challenges to create innovative strategies for leveraging this state-wide opportunity and flip the script on what is possible for community-based food systems in their rural community.

ReFresh Food Collaborative Team (New Orleans, LA) -- Lauren Reyes, Tasheena Butler, Michael Richard, Marguerite Green, and Elisa Munoz Miller
Team Advisor: Miles Gordon
Despite successful collaborations and partnerships across organizations operating along different points of the food value chain – from farmer support and youth development to distribution and policy – many New Orleans’ communities continue to lack access to healthy, affordable, culturally relevant food, and small farmers continue to operate on a shoestring. The ReFresh Food Collaborative, a five-member, five-organization team with a rich history of collaboration, deep roots in community, and dedication and passion for creating an equitable and sustainable community-based food system, is eager to take their existing collaborations to the next level. The Gamechangers Lab is supporting them as they seek to leverage and strategically align their organizations’ unique strengths, resources, programs and infrastructure to support and build a community-based food system from farm to fork.

Follow along with the Gamechangers teams in our monthly Lab Notes:

Selected teams went through a rigorous application process (including creating a video!) and peer review process. Please click here to learn more  application instructions and requirements.

What is this all about?
Drawing inspiration from social labs, design hubs, and social enterprise incubators and accelerators, and using cutting-edge tools and frameworks from systems leadership and human-centered design, we envision the Gamechangers Lab as an action-oriented think tank for community-based food systems and food systems leadership. The Lab presents a unique opportunity for community food systems leaders to get creative, think outside the box, and collaboratively develop ideas and strategies that perhaps haven’t been tested or fundable to date. Our goal is to co-develop ideas, strategies, and approaches that have the potential to be scalable, replicable and/or adaptable and share those ideas liberally across the Food Systems Leadership Network.

The only constraint is that the solutions/ideas/new strategies must address food insecurity through community-based food systems—defined as community-led solutions to developing equitable health, wealth, connection, and capacity through food, based on a community’s unique set of assets, opportunities, challenges, and priorities. This is a working definition that may be refined or re-defined through this initiative. 

In this pilot year of the Gamechangers Lab, the Wallace Center is embracing the same learning, experimental, and adaptive approach that we ask of participants. We have a unique opportunity to dream and we have funds to support that process.

Questions?

Here are a few resources to help: 

· Informational Call Recording

· Informational Call Presentation slides

· FAQ document

As always, feel free to reach out directly: FSLNinfo@winrock.org 

Gamechangers Laboratory Timeline:

The Gamechangers Laboratory runs from September 2019 - March 2020

Questions and Suggestions:

As this is the inaugural round of the Lab, we’ve likely missed some things! We welcome your questions about the application process and any suggestions you might have on how we can make the process clearer. Please email FSLNinfo@winrock.org with “Questions- Gamechangers Lab” in the subject line. Thank you!