Volunteer Profile: Kelly Kayser

Today on the blog we will be highlighting data analysis volunteer Kelly Kayser and learn more about her volunteer role and expertise.

How would you describe your background and experience? How does it relate to your volunteer role?

I spent two years in Guinea as a Peace Corps Volunteer immediately after college. Not knowing exactly what I wanted to do when I “grew up,” I bounced around trying different things and ultimately landed in data science. My love of numbers and using them to tell a story are what ultimately drew me to the posting for a FFEN volunteer.

How did you get involved with FFEN? How long have you been volunteering with FFEN?

I saw a posting on Volunteer Match for a data analysis volunteer and thought it would be a great way to use my skills outside of work and in a helpful way. I’ve been volunteering with FFEN for just about a year.

Did you have any involvement with hunger relief efforts prior to FFEN? Can you talk

about what drew you to this cause and why it's important to you?

I didn’t have any experience with hunger relief efforts prior to FFEN, which I like to think of as a benefit. I can ask the questions that others may think obvious and that generally leads to some great conversations. I was drawn to this cause because it’s another angle of development that I had not experienced before. What does a typical FFEN engagement or project look like for you? I have engaged with FFEN in several ways, beginning with working on the Food

Sourcing Analysis (FSA) then moving on to working with a selected food shelf on

their project. Unfortunately, that project has been postponed due to COVID, but I

have been able to get back involved with the FSA reporting and working on the

data side of things. Do you have any particular stories or moments from your work that you would like to

share with readers? Something that illustrates the meaning and importance of the work or

how you engage with FFEN's mission? Although it was cut short with COVID, I had a great experience working with the

staff at the Brian Coyle Food Shelf in Minneapolis. That was my first real

experience at a food shelf and everyone was so welcoming of my many questions.

That first visit made it clear that those working at the food shelf on a daily basis knew

so much about the population that they were serving and how to improve

and my role was simply to listen and help problem-solve. It’s very clear that the

involvement of FFEN is an important piece to the puzzle, but in that project, I

learned about listening and innovating to have the biggest impact possible. How has volunteering with FFEN shifted your learning or understanding of your

particular field or hunger relief? Volunteering with FFEN has taught me a lot about the complex processes in the

hunger relief field. I’m continuing to learn how much work goes into creating an

effective and useful food shelf and how improvements are constantly being

created on the grassroots level. I’ve really learned about the resilience of all those

involved in the field, especially with the current pandemic conditions and I look

forward to continuing my involvement in the projects well into the future.


To learn more about FFEN’s mission and how you can help click here.