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Faces of the Food Bank: Eli

Meet Eli, Lead Volunteer Coordinator, and an important part of our team here at the Food Bank. She was born in the Bay Area and grew up in Mexico until her family moved to Los Angeles. She went on to earn a B.A. in English at the University of California, Berkeley. Her work at the Food Bank began as a volunteer leader with L.A. Works, a nonprofit that empowers and mobilizes volunteers throughout the Greater Los Angeles area.


After six months of volunteering at the Food Bank, Eli says, “I really liked the idea of people donating their time on a Saturday morning to give back to the community. You get to start the weekend knowing that you actually did something meaningful.”


Eli started as a Summer Associate in the Food Bank’s Nutrition Department through AmeriCorps. After her summer program ended, Ana Martinez, the Volunteer Director, asked her to join the Volunteer Department full-time. When asked who truly inspires her work, Eli names her boss, Ana, and fellow member of the Food Bank family. “She’s really the best boss I’ve ever had. I love her attitude,” Eli says. “I gravitate towards people who get things done. Ana gets things done. But she  is also nurturing and concerned with our growth.”


Eli has a challenging job. Working with so many volunteers means she always has to be prepared to deal with the unexpected. And she admits that it can be difficult to face such an overwhelming issue on a daily basis— ending hunger in L.A. County, where one in six people struggle with food insecurity. But instead of dwelling on how large of a problem it is, Eli is grateful for all of the helping hands that volunteer.


“What really strikes me the most is how many returning volunteers we get. It really makes recruitment a lot easier. A lot of them just come on their own,” she explains.

“I know it sounds cheesy but I always say this: the volunteers truly are the backbone of our organization. We have such a small staff and we absolutely could not do this work without the help of volunteers.”


Eli says it is rewarding to see all the sorted food that she knows will feed those in need. “One small action does make a huge difference. You may just be one pair of hands, but at the end of the day the food that we sort is going onto someone’s table. It’s feeding someone who needs help.”

To treat herself, Eli enjoys classical music concerts and spending time with her two cats.


Faces of the Food Bank highlights employees, donors and advocates for food justice in Los Angeles. To learn how to volunteer, click here.

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