Tucked away in an office adjacent to the cafeteria at Patterson High School sits Nutrition Services Account Clerk, Jennifer Rodriguez. Rodriguez has held the position since 2017, and the story of how she got there fits as perfectly as a fairytale glass slipper.
Born and raised in Hayward, Ca. Rodriguez has always found work in the development, management and evaluation of an organization's undertaking. In Walnut Creek she worked as a Contract Administrator for IKON Office Solutions and then in the Silicon Valley she worked her way up from a Customer Support Representative to a Contract Administrator for American telecommunications giant, Harmonic Incorporated.
“I dealt with that commute for years and years and then I had my kids and that’s when I stayed home until they were in preschool,” said Rodriguez, who at the time was living in Tracy.
Once her kids were old enough to attend preschool Rodriguez decided to sign up for the substitute-list for the Tracy Unified School District.
“I started off as a [paraeducator] and then a yard duty and I really loved the flexibility,” said Rodriguez. “Being able to work again while my kids were in school [was great] so I stuck with that flexibility.”
Rodriguez then started subbing as the Nutrition Services Account Clerk working from the District Office in Tracy and that’s when she realized how much she loved the position.
“I became [a regular] for probably a year or two. I was there all the time...I learned a lot [about being a Nutrition Services Account Clerk] while subbing at Tracy and I loved it. It was absolutely my favorite sub position and then we moved here to Patterson.”
Once Jennifer and her family settled in Patterson, she immediately got on the sub list for Patterson Unified where she worked as a paraeducator and other various roles before deciding to try something she hadn’t done before.
“I signed up for the cafeteria and that was new to me, but I thought I might as well give it a try and that’s when [Nutrition Services Manager, Lori Hay] kept texting me to sub and I was almost permanent and then it did [eventually] become a three hour permanent position in the kitchen helping out.”
Almost immediately after Rodriguez was hired as a three hour employee, she overheard a conversation between the Nutrition Services Account Clerk at the time, and another employee.
“She said that she was going to retire and they needed a sub to take her place and it was just such a weird coincidence that it happened because that was a position that I just subbed for in Tracy and that I just loved and it was almost like it just fell into my lap so I immediately offered my help.”
Rodriguez subbed as the Nutrition Services Account Clerk at Patterson Unified for six months before the official hiring process began and she was selected for the position. Now Rodriguez maintains, processes and validates the household income forms (previously known as the lunch application) for the entire Patterson Joint Unified School District. She also does invoicing for non-program products for the district (such as county programs) and handles the accounts receivable for the department, bank reconciliation, and processes production records on a daily basis.
A graduate of Hayward High School, Rodriguez continued her education in Hayward where she earned her Associate of Arts in Administrative Assistance from Chabot Community College and then a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix.
“I was working so I started to go to college online with the University of Phoenix and I loved it. It was awesome because for me it was giving me that balance to be able to work full-time and go to school online.”
Rodriguez is married and has two children, a 14-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter. The family enjoys going on bike rides, taking trips to the city and swimming in their backyard pool. When she isn’t spending time with her family, Rodriguez likes to exercise and stay in shape so she’s tip-top in her day-to-day routine at the office, a routine that’s significance to the School District goes beyond the Nutrition Services Department.
“The [household income forms] are extremely important because they ensure that the school gets all of the funding and benefits available to support the teachers and the students,” said Rodriguez. “What we submit to the state is what determines how much funding the state is going to give our school as a whole. That goes down to the teachers, the classrooms and everything.”
In addition to the income verification forms, Rodriguez processes and verifies the production sheets, which contains the number of meals and every component served in the district on a daily basis.
“I need to review them to make sure that they are filled out correctly and the numbers are accurate. They are filled out on a daily basis because those numbers at the end of the month, I’ll run reports for [Director of Nutrition Services, Vikeshni Diyal] so that she can submit our claim.”
Although Rodriguez is stationed behind a desk, she loves the fact that she works from the Patterson High School site because it allows her to step out every once in a while and interact with the students. Rodriguez also takes pride in the fact that she is the only one in the district that holds her specific duties.
“I love being at the High School and seeing the students. You know it’s different than just being in an office, you get to actually see the students and you can say good morning and put a smile on their face. [It’s also] rewarding to contribute such a big part to my department and make sure our day-to-day operations run smoothly and to know that position is unique in that I am the only one that maintains these specific job functions in our district.”