Welcome, Samara!22 Apr 2021, by Tacoma Farmers Market in
Samara Elaine Gonzalez, commonly called Elaine, is proud to be a part of the team at Tacoma Farmers Market (TFM) where she is serving her AmeriCorps VISTA term. Elaine recently graduated with a Masters degree in Nutrition Science and Research centering her thesis on evaluating farmers markets located in low income and low food access areas of Washington State. Her research study focused specifically on 16 WA farmers markets (one of which was Tacoma Farmers Market) and their communities to understand the types of challenges these communities face in accessing the market, as well as the strategies used by market managers to expand their outreach into marginalized communities. Ultimately, Elaine is interested
in finding new ways to make farmers markets more accessible and welcoming to everyone!
The core of her education focused on the social determinants of health, health equity, and understanding of the existing flaws in our healthcare, education, and food systems. Elaine is a proud Latina who comes from a large family, raised by a strong, single mother who dedicated her life to raising five successful children. Elaine and her family struggled with food insecurity, poverty, and racism while living nomadically up and down the west coast from Alaska to Mexico. It is these experiences that drive her to be a vocal advocate for health equity and food justice. She hopes to one day influence food policies in the U.S. to increase our focus and support for marginalized communities.
When Elaine isn’t working with others to improve our food systems, she enjoys dancing and stretching as a form of meditation, aerial dance and choreography, trail running, rock climbing, painting, making paper cranes, eating fresh fruit, cooking and canning, rollerblading, making her house look like a mini-jungle (plants make her feel alive!), sewing, dressing up, swimming in lakes and rivers at all times of the year, and a daily exploration of the world around her with a child-like curiosity and fascination.
As the AmeriCorps VISTA at Tacoma Farmers Market, Elaine connects Pierce County households with newly implemented low-cost mobile farmers market sites where they can access SNAP EBT incentive funding – improving nutrition and freeing income up for other needed purchases. Elaine also works to strengthen systems for volunteer recruitment and retention to provide excellent customer service. With TFM Elaine engages community service organizations and SNAP Ambassadors to act as trusted community partners. TFM also aims to support small farms, especially those owned and operated by farmers historically denied access to farmland and capital.