Anabel’s Grocery, the student-run grocery store housed in Anabel Taylor Hall, first opened in 2016 with the mission to provide fresh, affordable and nutritious food and produce to the Cornell community. This year the nonprofit will return on Sept. 14 with new programming in collaboration with campus organizations and agricultural partners.
Since its inception, Anabel’s has held community dinners, cook-alongs and pickling events for students and professors. This year, the Anabel’s coordinators plan to continue holding these events.
“It’s hard in the spring because everything’s dead in the winter, so all of our agricultural partners don’t have anything fresh coming in during that time,” said Dylan Rodgers ’23, the collaboration and education coordinator at Anabel’s Grocery. “So, it’s harder to run those events, but we want to get that back going in these next few weeks.”
The nonprofit’s primary goal is to combat food insecurity on campus. Since 2019, the organization has pushed for the inclusion of survey questions relating to food insecurity.
In 2019, the Cornell Undergraduate Experience Survey, which asks students about their campus involvements and general perceptions of their undergraduate experience, concluded that about 30 percent of undergraduate students reported a lack of food security.
In 2021, the survey asked questions about how often students eat less than they feel they need due to different circumstances. Lack of money, transportation and time to prepare food were all barriers. The survey also showed trends in racial inequalities with these barriers affecting BIPOC students at close to twice the rate of white students.
Recently, the Basic Needs Initiative at Cornell conducted a survey that highlighted the continued prevalence of food insecurity on campus, particularly among first-generation, low-income students.
“It will take a lot of effort to change those racial inequities on campus,” Rodgers said. “At Anabel’s, we’re trying to do it through food, but it’s really going to take everyone here, all hands on deck.”
With a potential basic needs center in the works, the Anabel’s coordinators hope to work with the center in their food security efforts.
“The baseline is that there still is this food insecurity on campus,” Rodgers said. “Cornell has made some really good efforts with a food pantry and the Swipe Out Hunger program, and other ways to subsidize meal plans, but there’s still a lot of room to grow.”
In Spring 2022, Anabel’s began accepting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Electronic Benefit Transfers funds for eligible students. In the semester, the coordinators said that 73 students of the nearly 1000 total customers used their EBT cards to buy their groceries.
Rodgers pointed to how Cornell Dining does not accept SNAP/EBT. With students being on meal plans for their first two years on campus, the Anabel’s coordinators are hoping that the University will explore how to support upperclassmen who are not enrolled in meal plans.
Anabel’s has also been focusing their efforts on anti-racism work through their action fund, which has been in place since 2019. Many students get involved in Anabel’s Grocery through the course Applied Economics Management 3385: Social Entrepreneurship Practicum: Anabel’s Grocery, so the outreach is very organic, according to the coordinators, since students will have friends in agriculture clubs.
Hydroponics and Bee Club, as well as Dilmun Hill Student Farm, donate their products to the grocery, and all the proceeds of the products sold goes toward the action fund.
Along with the class, students can also get involved with Anabel’s Grocery through their organization’s Collaboration and Education group.
Anabel’s will open for in-person shopping on Sept. 14, and operates on Wednesday and Thursday from 2-7 p.m., Friday from 12-7 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.