Following a successful IT career, Joe Teff was looking for something very different than his former day-to-day. “I used to joke that, when I retired, I would put a computer under my arm and walk around until someone said, ‘what’s that?’ and there I’d stay,” he said.

Joe’s role at the Food Bank of Iowa is to assist Volunteer Center Coordinator Jarred Adams in running volunteer shifts in the Wellmark Foundation Volunteer Center.

Together, they push through dozens of pallets and bins of food each day. Shifts of dozens of volunteers pass through the volunteer center, sorting, checking, bagging, and boxing, helping move food through our distribution.

“The Food Bank of Iowa ticks off a lot of boxes for me,” Joe said. “It’s active, but it’s not like going to the gym — the impact is tangible, it gives you a real sense of accomplishment.”

Joe’s role is key to keeping the Volunteer Center running smoothly. Volunteers are only able to work as quickly as pallets are loaded and unloaded, boxes are built, and supplies are readily available.

“A group of 20 people can get a lot done, as long as the back end work is happening to keep up with them,” said Adams. “Joe knows our system, he can answer questions and keep product moving. He’s also brought new ideas to food drive sorting, keeping product moving.”

With the help of Joe and other key volunteers, the Food Bank of Iowa’s Volunteer Center has reached new heights of efficiency. Each week, volunteers work through 50,000 pounds of food — orders of magnitude more than they could get through in years past.

In addition to his contributions to the physical work, Joe is focused on the reason it’s being done: Iowans in need. Joe also volunteers at the Urbandale Food Pantry, a Food Bank
of Iowa partner agency.

“Joe is a problem solver, never afraid to lift heavy things both physical and metaphorical, always looking toward the end goal,” said Michaela Devaney, Volunteer Program Manager. “He’s mission focused and he shares our values. He’s here to help Iowans in need.”

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