Today on the blog we're highlighting data analysis volunteer Abhika Mishra to learn more about her expertise and volunteer role.
How did you get involved with FFEN? How long have you been volunteering with FFEN?
During the summer of 2020, COVID was still on the rise and I wasn’t able to go out and do many summer activities and I wanted to find a way to give back to society during those hard times. So, I went online to search for remote volunteering opportunities related to computer/data science since I had just taken a data programming course and am planning on majoring in CS. I found FFEN and began as a data analysis volunteer in August of 2020.
What is your professional background and experience and how does it relate to your volunteer role?
I’m currently a senior in high school, so I haven’t had much of a professional background, however, I thoroughly enjoy computer science and have partaken in many CS activities and courses. I’ve taken a few courses on data, including an intro to data science course online and an intermediate data programming course with Python at the University of Washington during breaks. These led to my interest in data and hence why FFEN’s data analysis volunteer role intrigued me so much.
What has your engagement and projects looked like with FFEN?
I started off with FSA report creations and created 2-3 reports for food shelves. When looking for more opportunities to help, I reached out to Kate who introduced the idea of working as a part of a steering committee. Through the steering committee, I helped create the new FSA report as well as a worksheet which works as a guide to analyze data. I also learned a lot about databases when listening to the other steering committee members who were working on establishing a database for FFEN’s data.
How do you see your skill sets and professional experience supporting hunger relief work and food shelf engagements?
Data, as well as technology in general, are really pertinent to every domain and I believe they can play a large role in developments within the hunger relief sector as well. Whether it’s finding a more sustainable way to produce/distribute food or creating a safer way to share and transfer food shelf or food bank data to see the full picture when making decisions, technology/computer science skills will be necessary.
How has volunteering with FFEN shifted your learning or understanding of your particular field or hunger relief?
I have learned immensely through volunteering at FFEN, both about the hunger relief sector as well as my field (computer science). Seeing the practical application of data science and data analysis has been a wonderful experience. As a high school student, I hadn’t gotten the opportunity to see the impact technology has first-hand, but while working through the steering committee, I got to experience it. The creation of a database, for example, automated many tasks and cut the time of FSA report creation by about half, leaving more time to analyze the data and provide more insightful findings to food shelves. This will ultimately lead to better food spending and will develop distribution within food shelves, reaching many more people. I also learned a lot about hunger relief. For example, I didn’t even know that food banks and food shelves are not interchangeable and refer to two different things before volunteering at FFEN! Overall, I have genuinely enjoyed working with FFEN and look forward to continuing learning about and volunteering within the hunger relief field.
To learn more about this volunteer position, visit https://www.ffen.org/volunteer!