Please join us in welcoming a new member of our team, Alex Courtney, who will be serving as our AmeriCorps Data Systems Coordinator for a year.
To understand Alex’s important role, a little recent history is in order. In 2019, Table to Table staff and leaders identified our current data management system as one of our biggest barriers. We’re tracking 2.5 million pounds of 10,000+ pick-ups and deliveries and 150 partnerships on paper and in Excel. Our 3-year strategic plan prioritizes new organization-wide software to help us overcome our infrastructure barriers and improve our food rescue operations. Alex is going to bring us from spreadsheets and paper into the 21st century. He will help us connect with our partners and volunteers easier and make all the data we collect more accessible and actionable.
Alex recently graduated from the University of Iowa with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science. He came to Table to Table in the summer of 2020 looking for a project that would use his skill set to do good and advance the mission. At that time, we were piloting a new mobile app that would help local gardeners donate their excess produce. As a volunteer, Alex helped us test and set up the app which we will be using for a second upcoming season. Impressed with his initiative on the first project, we invited him to join us for a new project as an AmeriCorps VISTA member. VISTA members commit to serving in a volunteer capacity full-time for a year. We were thrilled he agreed to join us and make this incredible commitment.
Alex is an aspiring software engineer. Now, three months into the project, it’s clear his experience is well suited to helping us identify a good fit for our software needs and leading us through the implementation process. Of his programming work, Alex says, “It’s construction by iteration. There’s always something to be improved upon if you’ve got the gumption to do it.” That’s one of the things that makes him a great fit for Table to Table – we’re always iterating and improving on the work of food rescue. This project to upgrade our systems is evidence of that.
Alex is a lifelong resident of Iowa City. As an Eagle Scout, Alex participated in service projects like Scouting for Food where he collected canned goods door to door and donated them to local food pantries. As an adult, he became acquainted with the T2T mission through his wife Bernice, who has been a route and committee volunteer for several years. This last year has helped Alex see the scope of hunger relief work. “Through involvement with Table to Table I have been able to see where that food ends up and the needs of people out there, especially during COVID, “ Alex explains. “I hope this [software project] will relieve the administrative burden on the staff and they can spend their time more efficiently and that we build a lasting solution, a software that helps them work together using data from all places.”
We’re happy to report that we’ve recruited another lover of food and food memories. T2T staff and volunteers often commiserate and connect over food favorites and after just a short couple of months, Alex is ready to collect new entries for a T2T recipe book. He is famous for his spicy Chex mix recipe and he’ll let you in on the secret, it’s fresh garlic and hot peppers. No word yet if the complete recipe will be in the next Recipes to the Rescue recipe book.