Boris Tsang/Sun File Photo

Anabel's Grocery plans to use the proceeds from some of its products to fund future grants for anti-racist student action on campus.

September 6, 2021

Anabel’s Grocery Hopes to Re-Start In-Person Shopping, Continue Anti-Racist Advocacy

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Anabel’s Grocery will reopen its doors this semester, hoping to continue advocating for its values of food justice this semester, using the proceeds of products donated by Dilmun Hill Student Farm and Cornell Hydroponics Club to finance future grants to support anti-racist iniatives from campus organizations and students.

“We’re trying to empower groups and individuals to pursue creative ideas in the anti-racist action space,” said Dylan Rodgers ’23, the collaboration and education lead for the store.

Anabel’s is a student-run grocery store which sells subsidized groceries to Cornell students to  promote healthy food access on campus.

According to Rodgers, Anabel’s Grocery is working with other campus partners to plan a committee that will evaluate grant applications for initiatives, which could include speakers, events and other educational programs starting next semester. 

“Part of the idea is we’re opening it up to the student body,” Alyssa Gartenberg, purchasing lead, said. “If people have really great ideas, I think we’re super open to a lot of different types of things.”

Anabel’s Grocery is adapting to COVID-19 risks while trying to accommodate consumer preferences, according to Rodgers, Gartenberg and Katie Go ’22, operations lead. 

Anabel’s will offer both in-person shopping and online ordering with contactless pickup for those who do not feel safe shopping in person. Only 15 people will be allowed in the store at a time, and all people within the store are required to use hand sanitizer. While most things offered in-person will also be available via online pickup, there may be some discrepancies because of the challenge of managing in-person and online inventory simultaneously.

“We sent out a survey to all our customers and we asked them how they prefer to shop. A huge majority said they prefer shopping in person and that’s why we wanted to make it work,” Go said.

Depending on how much COVID-19 cases rise in the coming weeks, Anabel’s Grocery may return to online ordering only, as it did last semester. 

Anabel’s Grocery reopened last semester for online ordering and grocery pickup only, after months of advocacy including a Student Assembly resolution and a petition. 

“Part of the reason we did want to maintain the hybrid option is it does give us flexibility for if we decide to shut the store down and go back to just online ordering, we already have that infrastructure in place,” Gartenberg said.

Grocery selection will be wider this semester in response to consumer feedback, with new products including curry paste, cheese and collard greens. Anabel’s Grocery sources products from producers and buyers including Dilmun Hill Student Farm, the Cornell Hydroponics Club, Regional Access, Headwater and Cornell Orchards.

The Anabel’s Grocery store is staffed by students who are taking or have previously taken the AEM 3385: Social Entrepreneurship Practicum course, taught by Anke Wessels, director of the Cornell Center for Transformative Action. The course covers cooperative economics and food system related health and racial inequities. In addition, students can get involved through the Anabel’s Collaboration and Education student organization.

According to Gartenberg, this semester’s wider selection of groceries is meant to make the store more welcoming to students from diverse communities.

Anabel’s Grocery plans to offer small group cooking lessons and community dinners if the number of COVID cases falls, according to Rodgers. If cases remain too high for this to be a possibility, Anabel’s may offer cooking lessons online.

All of Anabel’s Groceries changes for the next semester are aimed at providing accessible food to students while limiting the risk of COVID transmission, furthering their goal of food justice.

According to Gartenberg, the Anabel’s Grocery team wants to help reduce barriers to food access at Cornell by providing convenient, lower cost, healthy groceries. Gartenberg sees transportation challenges, cost and limited time as some of the key obstacles to healthy food access on campus, especially for lower income students.

“Food justice exists when all people have access to the food they need to live a happy and healthy life,” Rodgers said.