Members of the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly approved a budget which will allocate $20,000 to Anabel’s Grocery Store — a student-run organization that aims to address Cornell’s food insecurity — at its Monday meeting.
The budget for the 2016-2017 term passed unanimously.
“The GPSA funding for the grocery will be returned to the GPSA if the Grocery itself discontinues or if the GPSA’s support for the Grocery discontinues,” said Mariko Alexander grad, Appropriations Chair.
Anabel’s Grocery Store was approved to open by the Student Assembly in order to address food insecurity on campus, The Sun previously reported. President Elizabeth Garrett signed off on the store in November of last year.
Although the store was set to open in February, its start date was delayed until the beginning of this academic year due to bureaucratic barriers and the unexpected expenses involved in the bidding process. A new bid is expected to be executed promptly, according to the grocery’s co-directors.
“I don’t work for the people that are building this thing, but it’s supposed to be, after construction, a self-sustaining, ongoing grocery store,” said Todd Snider grad, Social Sciences Representative. “The idea is that this is only an upfront cost — the GPSA is not going to be putting in money over and over again. In theory, this is just supposed to make a new solution for students who can’t get to Wegmans or even if they can get to Wegmans, it wouldn’t be affordable enough for them.”
The majority of the store’s start-up costs will be covered by a $320,000 allocation from the Students Helping Students Fund — a grant through the Student Assembly — The Sun reported.
“In late fall [of] 2015, the GPSA passed a resolution to set the graduate student activity fee for 2016-2018, as we do every year,” Alexander said. “Part of this resolution set aside $20,000 dollars annually, which would come from the activity fee.”
The GPSA’s allocated activity fee for graduate students increased from $1.95 to $4.50 this academic year. The primary purpose of this increase was to fund Anabel’s Grocery Store at $2.50 per graduate and professional student, according to Alexander.
Graduate students became involved in the planning of the grocery store following the release of a survey by the GPSA designed to poll food insecurity among graduate students.
“The results of that survey was that yes, there is a sizeable number of graduate students who are food insecure,” said Teja Pratap Bollu grad, Biological Sciences Representative. “Based on our conversations with the grocery store, the agreement was that the graduate students would provide a certain amount of buy-in in order to have access to the store.”
Members raised concerns about the startup of Anabel’s Grocery coinciding with the recent opening of Greenstar Coop in Collegetown. However Nathaniel Rogers, president of the GPSA, explained that Greenstar will complement, rather than compete with Anabel’s.
“The supplier for Anabel’s Grocery Store is the same supplier that Greenstar is using,” Rogers said. “The Greenstar folks are helping them get this going. So there are grocery store professionals that are helping organize this.”