Volunteer Name: Sara Schumacher
FFEN Volunteer Role: Data Analysis and Database Volunteer
Current Professional Title: Data and Information Lead
How did you get involved with FFEN?
I found a volunteer listing online while searching for opportunities to get involved in the community and for ways to use my professional skills. I was new to Minnesota when I started with FFEN and my involvement has made me feel a greater connection to the state.
How long have you been volunteering with FFEN?
Almost 3 years. I started early 2020. I have only met some of the staff in person a few times!
Why do you share your time and talents with FFEN?
The thing that makes FFEN different, is the amount of community and value of individual input. Working alongside volunteers from around the country to make a difference to hundreds of food shelves across the state is powerful. Spending my time volunteering with FFEN is both worthwhile and rewarding.
What is your professional experience (and background) and how does it relate to your volunteer role?
I have a degree in statistics and a varied professional background in data analysis and data architecture. I started at FFEN working on FSA reports and transitioned to creating, maintaining, and enhancing our database and data architecture.
What have your volunteer projects looked like with FFEN?
I started by completing FSA reports, then transitioned to looking at bulk FSA data. I then was part of a small team that restructured the FSA reports and set up a database. Moving from a collection of spreadsheets to a more automated process was a major milestone. My current projects relate to the continuous improvement of FFEN’s data platform. There are so many opportunities to volunteer with FFEN and to expand based on your interests and skills.
What impact have you seen from your volunteer projects with FFEN, either within the organization or for a local food shelf?
FFEN staff and volunteers have been able to answer analytical questions in a faster and more efficient way. With that improvement, I’ve also seen the analytical questions grow in maturity and complexity. All of this expands FFEN’s capacity and impact. I’m proud to be a small part of the work that helps enable the mission of FFEN.