This research specifically examines how food-focused, collaboratively based multi-stakeholder efforts aiming to address social problems align with and operationalize theories of poverty and food systems change. This research was conducted in order to understand how they implicitly and explicitly conceptualize social issues in the food system and operationalize change from theory to application and what can be learned from this transition. I examine how equity is positioned within the collaborative efforts. I find that the more institutionalized collaborative efforts become, the further they stray from equitably-based outcomes. I then articulate suggestions for collaborative multi-stakeholder efforts to improve their processes.