This semester, Anabel’s Grocery will continue supporting Cornell students, even if it can’t be through groceries.
Cornell’s student-run store will be closed for the upcoming semester, but the student-led social enterprise is trying to turn the disruption of the virus into an opportunity. Although the Anabel’s team will not be able to operate the store, the organization is looking forward to enhancing its educational and outreach efforts.
The Office of Student and Campus Life halted Anabel’s normal operations this semester, as student organizations on campus cannot host in-person events this semester, according to the office’s website.
Although Anabel’s team members said that they appreciate the administration’s commitment to public health and student safety, the news that they wouldn’t be able to distribute groceries was disappointing, especially as food insecurity has spiked during the pandemic.
“The argument that the administration gave us is that there are food pantries for people in need,” said team member Emily Desmond ’21. “But Anabel’s can provide more than that to students. We provide a lot of educational resources and empower people to feed themselves healthy meals.”
Through these resources, the grocery store is trying to make the most out of the semester, hoping to collaborate with other groups that work toward social, economic and environmental justice.
Anabel’s is looking to partner with organizations and support existing projects in the Ithaca area such as the Ithaca Farmers Market and Tompkins County Food Task Force. The organization also plans to add educational resources to its website that explain the connection between food, health, justice and sustainability.
Additionally, the student organization intends to review its structure, policies, programming and operations from an anti-racist perspective. The team welcomes collaboration with other organizations engaged in anti-racist work, and members have already met with on-campus groups such as Cornell Students for Black Lives.
“Our organization’s previous mission must be uprooted to build space for active, constant racial justice programming,” said team member Ryan Stasolla ’21 in a press release. “Anabel’s is eager to evolve and adapt in this coming semester.”
Anabel’s team encourages students passionate about racial, ecological and economic justice to get involved by taking AEM 3385: Social Entrepreneurship Practicum: Anabel’s Grocery, taught by Dyson School visiting lecturer Anke Wessels. The class is the main entry point for new members of the social enterprise.
Anabel’s opened its doors in May 2017, following more than two years of planning, with the goal of providing healthy and affordable meals to address food insecurity at Cornell and in Ithaca. The non-profit, student-run grocery store also took a semester hiatus in spring 2019 to reassess its business operations.
In previous semesters, students taking the course ran the grocery store’s operations. Despite the operational pause this semester, Anabel’s still wants to give students the chance to actively address food insecurity at Cornell and help the grocery store fulfill its justice-driven mission.
“We have the opportunity, this semester, to lay the groundwork that connects political education with fierce alliances to transform the food system with the hope that, soon, we can also return to the practical, everyday work of running Anabel’s Grocery,” Wessels said.