Holistic strategies can provide economic and social benefits to disadvan taged communities, through local food movements such as food sovereignty. This paper examines concrete methods to increase economic opportunities for farmers and to better livelihoods for producers that also increase food security for the community at large. The focus is on recent trends that support food sheds, target marginalized populations, and stimulate the local economy through participatory community efforts in the promotion of local food sources. Case studies draw upon new developments in the rural USA, particularly in the poorest communities of New Mexico. They demonstrate how economic betterment for farmers, positive development of value chains and infrastructure improvements that increase local trade also have the potential to foster healthier communities. Findings that are applicable to developing economies highlight the value of pursuing strategies for community-based, small-scale, integrated food systems.