Facebook Pixel - PageView Event

Faces of the Food Bank: Val

Faces of the Food Bank: Val

The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank

The Food Bank touches thousands of lives every day, impacting the wellbeing of our clients and energizing the community through volunteer efforts. What some may not realize is that the Food Bank also can and does change the lives of its staff in immeasurable ways. As the organization grows, the people here who dedicate their time and energy to alleviating hunger in L.A. are encouraged to share in that growth.



Valerie Rodriguez, Production Supervisor, has been with the Food Bank for five years. She is 43 years old, “The same age as the Food Bank!” she laughs. Valerie loves her job and takes pride in her team’s achievements. Her work includes coordinating special events, building compliance, making sure her team adheres to food safety regulations, training Transitional Subsidized Employment (TSE) workers and overseeing production coordinators–among numerous other tasks. Mother of eight and newly remarried, Valerie says, “This is the happiest I have ever been. I am so grateful for the opportunity to work here.


What Valerie brings to work every day is strong leadership, integrity, confidence and incredible grit. Her coworkers admire her greatly. When there was a change in staffing, leaving senior leadership roles unfilled for an extended period of time in 2014, it was Valerie who stepped up to make sure operations were not interrupted. No one could possibly miss her boldness and energetic communication style. What you don’t see on the surface is the hard path she took to get to where she is today.


It was a really bad life,” she says. “Drugs, family problems, a horrible, horrible time. But little by little, I put my life back together.”


Before her path led her to the Food Bank family, Valerie was in a recovery program on skid row. Her living situation changed multiple times, placing her in several agencies that just so happen to be partnered with the Food Bank. From the Los Angeles Mission, to the Weingart Center, to the Salvation Army, Valerie began to put her life back together with help from the community.


While committed to her recovery programs, Valerie also worked as a credit analyst all the way in Tustin for six years. “I didn’t have the education to pursue other things at that time and I was really focused on my recovery,” she says. During that time, her children were scattered in different foster homes. So, in addition to her arduous daily commute, Valerie had to travel a lot in order to remain in her kids’ lives.


But I was in their lives the whole time,” she says. “The whole time.”


Valerie’s hard work paid off. She began to get her kids back in 2006 and they were all finally reunited in 2010.  “When I got my family back I had to find a new home for all of us,” she said. She also needed work that was closer to that home. That’s when she found the Food Bank.

Valerie became a part of the Food Bank family through the TSE program-the program she now oversees. A survivor of abuse, addiction and financial instability, Valerie can appreciate the difficult situations many of the Food Bank’s clients and TSE workers are going through. “You can always start over,” she says. “I don’t think people realize what a great opportunity this program can be.” After TSE, Valerie came onboard as a temp. “I would do anything asked of me. Anything. Quality control, helped pull orders, parking, trash pickup, inventory, receiving. Anything. I took everything as an opportunity to learn all I could about how this place works.” After her temp job, she became a Production Coordinator. Then, three years later, she became a Supervisor.


Now I get a chance to help serve the people who helped me! They don’t know me. The people who come here to pick up food, they don’t know I was there for years but I enjoy being able to give back.


Valerie’s favorite part of her job is seeing people in her TSE team grow and develop both personally and professionally. “Being in an organization like this can be life-changing for someone with a background like mine,” she says.


We get to help people! Kids, seniors, families. Being productive is a new experience for some people and it can change your entire outlook on life. It really can.


The TSE program has a huge impact on the individuals who willingly take advantage of it and want to serve the community. “I try to support those people as much as I can. There are some really valuable people here who just need a chance to learn. I don’t want anyone to leave the program empty-handed.


Valerie builds productive teams out of people who are going through a hard time and while it is a noble undertaking, it is not an easy one. She is led by her faith and passion for ministry work, which is how she spends much of her free time. “I do Bible trainings throughout the week so I can become qualified to work in a place like the ones that helped me.”


Valerie says the biggest lesson she’s learned at the Food Bank is to embrace change. “Everything is changing. As an addict, you don’t change. You just feed the needs of your addiction. But I’m not an addict no more and if you aren’t changing, you can’t heal and you can’t grow. Change doesn’t scare me. Now it’s actually the thing that keeps me going.


One of her sons is now a teacher. Her oldest daughter is about to graduate high school and wants to study ministry work in college. Valerie sings and plays the guitar and some of her children play music with her at church. “They’re such good kids. I am so proud of them!” Some of them even come with Valerie to the Food Bank to volunteer.


“This job has helped me as an individual. It helped me grow as a better person. And it gave me a new life. I will always be grateful.”
We are grateful for YOU, Val! Thank you for all you do for our community.

More Stories from the LA Food Bank

Bank Of America Donates $20,000 to the LA Food Bank

Bank Of America announces $20,000 grant in support of the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.

Client Story: Frank, a US Army Veteran, Receives Food Assistance through the Food Bank’s Agency Network

The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank works with a network of more than 600 charitable partner agencies throughout LA County. We recently visited My Friends House in Los Angeles and interviewed neighbors who were receiving groceries at their weekly distribution. Frank, an Army Veteran, shared this story with us.

You are playing a big role in my son’s well-being – thank you

Summer is harder for us because we lose access to school meals. Healthy foods like milk, meat, fruits and vegetables are not cheap. Last summer was my son’s first year with the Food bank’s Summer Lunch Program and he loved it! He said they even had watermelon.

Western Avenue Elementary School Parents and Students Say “Thank You”

Thank you notes from Western Avenue Students and their parents.

Stay Connected

Sign up for the latest in our fight against hunger.