When Anabel’s Grocery first opened its doors in Anabel Taylor Hall to the Cornell community, it came with the goal of alleviating food insecurity at Cornell and a mission to provide fresh, nutritious and affordable food to all students. On Feb. 16, Anabel’s reopened for the spring semester and is furthering that mission by now accepting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Electronic Benefit Transfers for eligible students.
SNAP is a federal program that issues SNAP dollars, which can be used like cash, to individuals who meet certain eligibility criteria to pay for groceries. Eligibility varies in each state and is determined by an individual or family meeting or being below a certain income bracket.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more students are eligible for SNAP dollars and may receive up to $250 each month for groceries. Students who qualify for federal work study or have an expected family contribution of $0 may now be eligible for this program.
With Anabel’s being the only campus grocery store, the newly accepted program provides students the option to buy their groceries in a convenient location, at prices they can afford.
This is the first time that Anabel’s is accepting SNAP and Anabel’s student leadership team says they hope to make the grocery and this new program easily accessible to Cornell’s large student body. To do so, Anabel’s is working with the Office of the Student Advocate to hold free workshops for potentially eligible students.
“We are working hard to make this an easy service for students to use and the system is working well.” said Dylan Rodgers ’23, the collaboration and education lead of Anabel’s.
The Office of the Student Advocate is a campus group working to assist and address students’ needs during their time at Cornell. In addition to helping students enroll in programs like SNAP, the OSA helps students apply for Medicaid and other basic needs related programs by providing SNAP/EBT and health insurance related workshops.
“We hope this will decrease the need to take out loans and support students during their time at Cornell,” said Student Advocate Delilah Hernandez ’22. “Undergraduate and graduate students attend our events, so the need is definitely across the university.”
The acceptance of SNAP is another step in Anabel’s mission as a nonprofit project of Cornell’s Center for Transformative Action, which supports system-changing projects that help create socially just and ecologically sound communities.
According to Rodgers, students have reacted positively to this new service and are excited to use it. Andy Jaeseung Shin ’23 currently uses SNAP/EBT at Anabel’s.
“With the adoption of EBT pay methods, I’m glad to see that Anabel’s grocery store is fostering a food-secure learning environment from an equity standpoint – especially for the students with exceptional needs.”
Along with SNAP, Anabel’s is working to continue to promote food justice on campus through supporting anti-racist initiatives with the anti-racist action fund, which funds student organizations to support projects or events that help to create a more equitable campus.
“Through the sale of produce donated from Dilmun Hill and the Hydroponics Club at Anabel’s Grocery, the anti-racist action fund is by students, for students,” said Rodgers. “The fund is managed by students from Cornell 4 Black Lives and Anabel’s who strive to make Cornell a safe and accessible space for BIPOC students.”
By providing peer-to-peer support, Anabel’s and OSA are hoping to make the process to sign up for and use SNAP/EBT as easy as possible. Students who are unsure if they are eligible for SNAP/EBT benefits are encouraged to reach out to OSA, attend one of their workshops or email Anabel’s for further assistance.
In addition to Anabel’s, OSA is working to expand SNAP acceptance across different stores on campus, according to Hernandez.
Claudia Nunez ’22, a SNAP/EBT user, said, “supporting more local food makes me happy and EBT allows me to have the funds to buy this food.”