Elle Mari is the Director of Urban Food Environments at the Center for Community Health. Elle develops and leads projects to improve the urban food environment in San Diego. She directs the Live Well Community Market Program that aims to improve and promote access to healthy affordable foods by working with small neighborhood food markets and community stakeholders. Additionally, Elle is an urban agriculture advocate and provides guidance to several local food system groups, projects, and policies in San Diego. She directs the Urban Growers’ Collaborative, a project working with San Diego’s urban farmers to support the viability of small urban farms and increase fresh local food access in City Heights, Southeastern San Diego, and the South Bay. As of 2020, Elle is also leading a team working with food pantries in San Diego County to deliver the Nutrition Pantry Program by Leah’s Pantry. She is also assisting select farmers’ market operators with food assistance benefits programs and other farmers’ market operations supports.
Elle has a Master’s of Science degree in Food Systems and Society. She has worked in the public sector supporting underserved neighborhoods to help communities thrive for over 12 years, with a passion and drive to tackle issues related to health equity and food justice. She is also a motivated mentor and adviser, and thrives when working with students.
Elle was honored with the 2016-2017 UC San Diego Exemplary Staff Employee of the Year award. She published a chapter on mobile produce markets and food justice in Food Justice in US and Global Contexts: Bringing Theory and Practice Together (2017). Elle was featured in the San Diego Union Tribune as a notable person in San Diego for her work with small neighborhood markets in 2017. She was recognized by the San Diego Chapter of the American Planning Association in 2018 for her market makeover and community gathering space project at African Caribbean Market in City Heights. Elle’s most recent community development project was a transformation of Center City Market, serving City Heights’ Somali community (2019).