A green economy that incorporates a vision of environmental sustainability and equitable social development requires a fundamental rethinking of the existing economic models which centre on growth. In theory, this rethinking leans towards political ecology, which explores the State's relationship with market and civil society. In practice, more dynamic and inclusive public-private partnerships are being sought after in various domains of sustainable development. However, very little has been clarified with regard to the basic conditions that make dynamic partnerships both sustainable and equitable. This paper proposes to explore potential conditions by drawing on the public procurement of local food for school meals. The so-called home-grown school feeding initiative is a pertinent example because it focuses on the qualities of public services that do not fully follow the conventional free market principle, but instead promote the deliberative engagement of various actors. This paper shows that such engagement can be institutionalized through rights-based and multi-level governance, which guarantees both civic participation and cooperation between different governmental agencies at the local and national levels. A detailed case study of the Brazilian national school feeding programme is used to illustrate the discussion.