Meet the Team: Kameko Nichols

Kameko Nichols The Common Market Southeast

Kameko Nichols may have joined the Southeast as an Outreach Associate last fall, but she’s really just getting started. The impact she’s made in just one year is a testament to her abilities to build bridges and innovate alongside farms and institutions.

In 2023, Kameko helped nearly 20 school districts throughout Georgia leverage funds made available through the state's Local Food for Schools (LFS) pilot program, a collaborative effort between participating school food authorities and the Georgia Department of Education School Nutrition Division to increase the amount of Georgia-grown foods in school meals.

The public school partners that Kameko nurtured increased their spend on local products throughout the school year, including with Ellijay-based orchard, BJ Reece, increasing apple purchases over 10-fold since August 2023.

If Kameko is not catching up with public schools’ food service teams, she is working hard to establish The Common Market’s forward commitment program, a new key component to our work, which represents a major paradigm shift compared to the standard model of institutional food purchasing. She has partnered with numerous institutions, including Aramark’s higher education sites throughout the Southeast and Morrison Healthcare hospitals, to help them place orders with farms in advance, in alignment with their values – like equity and diversity or climate. The partnership allows for institutions to become mission-aligned investors in our local food economy, and farmers to plan and harvest with confidence.

For now, we sat down with her to learn just a bit more about what ultimately draws Kameko to the work. Read on below!

  • Tell us a little bit about your background.

My background is a bit all over the place! I studied biology and religion in college, but then went to work in investment banking on Wall Street. I left banking after about five years and moved to southern Africa, where I lived for seven years and started working in public health. I moved to D.C., Cambodia and France before returning to Atlanta, where I wanted to pursue a new career in local food systems.

  • What inspired your involvement with The Common Market?

I have worked in global health for 15+ years, but I was ready to get more involved locally with food systems. Since I work in logistics and transportation in global health, when asking around about good local food organizations, I was often referred to The Common Market. I met Bill early on in my search and we kept in touch for over a year before I joined the team!

  • What excites you most about local food systems?

I love the idea of reclaiming food as nourishment and not a commodity that is disconnected from its roots (pun intended). I like the idea of supporting local farms and businesses and connecting them to the general population so good food can be enjoyed by all.

  • What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I seem to have less of it these days! But, I like to go hiking in North Georgia, explore the southeast by road, and travel the world - of course all while trying new food and cuisines.

  • Favorite veggie or fruit?


Connect with Kameko: Shoot her a note today!