Local students feed healthcare workers with Operation Nourish

Mira and Bela Gowda make a food delivery to Scripps Memorial Hospital.

Mira Gowda and her sister Bela, local students at The Bishop’s School, are running Operation Nourish to support healthcare workers through their fight against COVID-19. The Rancho Santa Fe sisters raise funds to provide high-quality meals, supplied at or below cost by local restaurants, to healthcare workers at hospitals. Since March 2020, they have provided nearly 1,000 meals.

“Our mission has two parts: first, we support local restaurants who have been affected by the pandemic by buying meals from them in bulk…and then we serve them to healthcare workers in locations that have been exceptionally hard-hit by COVID-19 cases,” said Mira.

Family friend Ajay Kshatriya originally started the idea in the early days of the pandemic as a small project called Feed the Fighters, raising money for a one-time meal donation with Breakfast Republic. When the CEO and co-founder of Biota Technology had to get back to work, he passed his project along to the Gowda sisters. Both young women have a lot of experience in volunteer work—Mira, a junior at Bishop’s, volunteers with Food for Life Global, Coastal Roots Farm and the All Girl Stem Society. Bela, a freshman at Bishop’s, volunteers with the African Library Project and Melodies for Remedies, a group of Bishop’s students that has held Zoom concerts for seniors during the pandemic.

The sisters worked to expand the reach of Operation Nourish by starting a website, building a social media presence and forming tighter relationships with local restaurants.

Notes of gratitude attached to the meals served with Operation Nourish.

As donors to their cause have come from all over California, they have partnered with restaurants such as Open Sesame in Los Angeles and Thistle in Oakland to feed frontline workers. Working to make a more local impact, they partnered with Kettner Exchange and have served Kaiser Permanente and Sharp Memorial in San Diego. Their last delivery of 80 meals was to the emergency department at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla.

In addition to the meals, a group of Bishop’s students also writes personal letters of thanks and appreciation to the healthcare workers that are delivered along with the meals.

“They enjoy the meals and they like seeing the gratitude of the community,” Mira said of the hospital staff. “The handwritten messages and drawings really make a big difference in their day.”

Mira said she loves that she can create this connection between the hospital workers and the community they serve.

Operation Nourish is working on fundraising for another big meal delivery, again working with Kettner Exchange but hoping to partner with a different hospital. A $50 donation can feed seven healthcare workers.

“We want to focus it on the holidays and provide members of the community with a way to give back to these people who risk their lives every day,” Mira said.

To donate or get involved, visit operationnourish.org