Sociology alumna turns to Wooster students for help supporting local food industry

Grace Gamble ’17

For Grace Gamble ’17, food is a family affair. Her great-aunt sold cookies to pay her way through college, and her mother taught her how to cook at a young age. Gamble decided she wanted to become a dietitian, and she started out on the pre-health track at The College of Wooster. After taking a couple of sociology courses, however, she realized she was more interested in the role of food at the societal level than at the individual level.

“I loved having these interesting and thoughtful discussions about topics that are happening in our world, and sociology gave me a lens to be able to do that,” Gamble said. “These courses allowed me to take a deep dive into some topics that I was really interested in, especially related to food.”

Gamble narrowed her focus to food systems and completed her Independent Study on the tension between market priorities and social goals at urban agricultural organizations. Since graduation, she has served in a variety of roles in the food systems industry, including urban farm manager, culinary educator, and program manager for a food justice organization. Today, she is the operations manager at Taste the Local Difference, a local food consulting, media, and marketing agency based in Traverse City, Michigan.

When Taste the Local Difference began searching for summer interns earlier this year, Gamble immediately thought of Wooster’s APEX Fellowship program. She was a two-time APEX Fellow herself and had developed key professional skills through her experiences, which included teaching students how to cook at a middle school in Cleveland and developing a curriculum for a new camp and retreat center focused on farming for the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio.

Grace Gamble ’17

Grace Gamble ’17, Photo: Paul Green

“Because my experiences were so valuable, I wanted to reach out and see if we could bring some students onto our team,” she said. “I think Wooster students have this unique passion and excitement and enthusiasm for the world. I felt confident that we’d be able to find some students who would be a good fit for us and that we’d be able to provide a valuable opportunity for them.”

Keeyeon Choi ’24 and Zach Napora ’25 began their internships with Taste the Local Difference in May. Gamble is supervising Choi, who is helping clean and streamline the database.

“As the first data integrity management intern at Taste the Local Difference, a significant portion of my responsibilities revolve around ensuring data integrity and accuracy,” says Choi, who is majoring in statistical and data sciences and minoring in economics. “Providing weekly reports to both my supervisor and the entire team has allowed me to witness the impact of my work and how it facilitates improved communication among team members and their partners.”

Napora is helping manage the organization’s social media pages and writing blog posts as a member of the marketing and media team. Napora, who shares Gamble’s passion for local food systems and sustainable agriculture, has found the internship rewarding on multiple levels.

“I have gained valuable knowledge about the local food landscape, including the challenges and opportunities that exist within the industry. I have developed a deeper understanding of the importance of supporting local farmers and the positive impacts it can have on the environment, economy, and community health,” said Napora, a psychology major. “Furthermore, I have honed my marketing and communication skills through various initiatives, such as creating content, coordinating events, and engaging with diverse stakeholders.”

The students aren’t the only ones benefiting from the internships, Gamble noted. “For me personally, it’s really wonderful and exciting to be able to mentor and work with students. I’m savoring their enthusiasm and creativity,” she said. “For our team, we’re gaining some wonderful support. It’s great to have another person in those spaces bringing in new ideas and energy.”

Top photo: Giancarlo Stefanutti

Posted in Alumni, Experiential Learning on July 24, 2023.

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