Jessica Gaffney had been doing entertainment marketing for eight years, and by most measures it seemed to be working out. She worked with high profile celebrities and brands, creating campaigns and spokesmodel deals for companies like Cover Girl, Max Factor, and Nintendo. But while she was learning a lot and getting great experience, she knew deep down that she wasn’t fulfilled by the work.
“I just knew I wanted to do something else and I had been looking around for what that else was for a long time,” Gaffney says. She had joined a local CSA in New York City’s Tribeca neighborhood and quickly discovered her passion for sustainable food. “I found that when I would meet up with friends and people would start talking about work, I didn’t want to talk about my work, I wanted to talk about my CSA.” Though she had never thought that a weekly box of local vegetables would lead to a career move, she started looking into the food movement, and eventually began searching for food-related work.
With the help of a good old-fashioned Google search, Gaffney landed on Good Food Jobs, a self-described “gastro-job search tool, designed to link people looking for meaningful food work with the businesses that need their energy, enthusiasm, and intellect.” Whether it’s a listing for an artisan cheesemaker in New York, a vegetable farm worker in Virginia, or a development and marketing director in Boulder, Colorado, Good Food Jobs has it. They currently have more than 700 jobs posted. Created by “friends, partners and ice cream lovers” Dorothy Neagle and Taylor Cocalis, the website has flourished beyond just job listings, growing to include events listings, its blog The Gastro Gnomes, and a summer scholarship program at Sterling College in Vermont.
Gaffney quickly became a Good Food Jobs addict, “reading it all the time, every week.” Through her CSA, she had learned about Just Food, a non-profit connecting communities with local farmers and fresh, locally grown food, and applied to its Farm School NYC two-year certificate program. She then came across a job posting for an Events and Marketing Manager position at the organization. She applied and soon enough she was transferring her corporate skills into a food non-profit. “This was perfect because I was able to come in and use all the skills I had and transition into the right industry,” Gaffney says.
It was the recognition that the food movement needed more people like Gaffney, non-chefs who wanted to work in food, that spurred Neagle and Cocalis to create their site. “There’s a huge range of ways that you can apply other skills that are not food-related to jobs in the food movement like, for example, helping small food businesses get off the ground,” Neagle says. Launched in 2010, the site’s following has grown to include more than 25,000 email subscribers and more than 10,000 unique visitors every week. And because there’s nothing like face-to-face connections, Good Food Jobs will now be joining the Just Food Conference (organized with Gaffney’s help), for the second year in a row, to hold a Good Food Jobs Get Together and help even more people find their food movement dream jobs.
This month, we're challenging the GOOD community to host a dinner party and cook a meal that contains fewer ingredients than the number of people on the guest list. Throughout March, we'll share ideas and resources for being more conscious about our food and food systems. Join the conversation at good.is/food and on Twitter at #chewonit.