After shuttering for the last semester to improve its business model, Anabel’s Grocery is back in season, and will reopen on Sept. 18.
Tucked in the back of Anabel Taylor Hall, the grocery store is a student-led nonprofit that aims to “provide fresh, nutritious and affordable food for all Cornell students,” according to its website.
Pricing was the biggest hurdle for the store, prompting its temporary closure, Kelsie Raucher ’20 said. Unlike big chains like Walmart and Wegmans, which can buy large quantities of produce at a cheap price, a small grocery does not have as much purchasing power. Product prices significantly surge for Anabel’s when it acquires a smaller quantity, she explained.
To keep prices low, Anabel’s is getting bulk orders of essentials like rice and oats. But by enabling customers to purchase individualized quantities using their own containers rather than in prepackaged bags, the store will help reduce both food and packaging waste.
In an earth-friendly move, the grocery is now buying some of its seasonal produce from local farms that use alternative growing methods to reduce pesticides. They are offering a basket of 20% discounted fruits and vegetables that have bruises in some areas but are still entirely safe to consume.
“If more consumers are like-minded in that, we would reduce food waste at the retail level,” Raucher said.
The student managers also took the time off to improve on their team structure. After tossing out an internal hierarchy, members now are empowered to take on any role they want and get involved in areas they are interested in. Most of them are enrolled in the course AEM 3385: Social Entrepreneurship Practicum, which gives them a structured time to work on the business.
With improved operations, Anabel’s will roll out a series of new initiatives this semester: In addition to bringing back cooking classes, it also plans on launching community dinners. Though still a work in progress, the dinner is intended to use unsold produce from the store to make dishes that the rest of the community can then enjoy for free.
“Our goal is really to increase awareness on food issues, food education and to empower students to be able to cook for themselves,” Raucher said. “We just want to help our fellow students, who may not have the time, access or lack the knowledge to cook, to be able to eat well on Cornell’s campus.”
Anabel’s will host its first event at the Cornell Farmers’ Market on Sept. 12.