LAVEEN, AZ — October 16th marks World Food Day across the globe and right here in the Valley of the Sun, a young man is doing his part to help others.
Jeremy Valdes is the store manager at the Fry's grocery store at 51st Avenue and Baseline Road in Laveen.
After putting in about 50 hours a week at his job, he takes off his badge and uniform and gets to work in other ways to help put food on people's tables.
"I like my job because during this pandemic, prior to that, you just think you are in here selling groceries, and we became essential workers to provide to our communities," said Valdes.
When food isn't sold at the store or starts to drop in quality, even a little bit, Jeremy walks the store looking for items that need to be taken off the shelf and repurposed.
"Our purpose is to end hunger, give back to our local food banks and we also feed our livestock," added Valdes.
The food items to be repurposed go to a back area of the store that local food banks access in order to fill the community needs.
The vegetables that are too damaged to be given out at local food banks are given to local farmers for their livestock.
Valdes says the demand for food from his store has seen an increase since the COVID-19 pandemic started.
"I was also able to volunteer at the drive-thru food pantry at Glendale Community College," he added.
Before serving as manager at his current store, Valdes was a store manager at the Maryvale store. That's where he created a program for Maryvale High School students to volunteer service hours in return for earning class credit.
He says he likes the fact that his store serves as much more than just a grocery store -- it serves a greater purpose for the community.
"Our purpose is to reach the human spirit. The students were able to get credit at my location, I had events for Halloween and a take a picture with Santa for Christmas event," added Valdes.
Valdes takes care of all of this volunteering on top of an already busy schedule.
"It really makes you feel great that you are the only person that is still able to provide to the community so everyone still had meals every single day," he added.