Annika Mirchandani, a junior at Bates College, is a student leader active in addressing food insecurity facing low-income senior citizens living in public housing. For the past three years she has worked with local food pantries to deliver 150 meals each week to homebound seniors. She has also recruited dozens of volunteers to make regular check-in phone calls, as well as to put together monthly care packages that include letters and essential items such as food items, hand sanitizer, dish soap, tissues, pens, and cards. Most recently, Annika has expanded her efforts to support people living in public housing to include a weekly arts-and-crafts program for elementary-aged children.
I began my role as Community Outreach Fellow for the Harward Center for Community Partnerships during my first year at Bates. In this role, I was given the opportunity to run a brunch program that fed approximately thirty residents of Blake Street Towers, a local low-income housing community, on Sunday mornings throughout the semester. While the pandemic halted the brunch program, I was able to continue to engage with the Lewiston community remotely, making volunteer check-in calls to hundreds of residents weekly throughout the rest of the Winter 2020 semester. The following year, I ran a care package program, where we delivered packages to residents every two weeks. Over the course of the 2020-2021 academic year, my volunteers and I were able to provide essential goods and handwritten letters to over one hundred residents of Blake Street Towers. This past fall, I continued to run this care package program, while also running an after school art program for middle schoolers at a different housing community in Lewiston. Being a Community Outreach Fellow and working closely with the Lewiston Housing Authority has been one of my greatest accomplishments and joys while I have been at Bates.