Anabel’s Grocery is a non-profit, student-run grocery store located in Anabel Taylor Hall that aims to help students on campus access high-quality, affordable grocery items. It sources its food from local farms and stores, such as Fort Baptist Farm and Wide Awake Bakery.
The purpose of the event was to raise money for the organization’s subsidy fund, which helps lower the price of the items in the store. Their goal is to keep their prices close to those of big box grocery stores like Wegmans or Target, which is difficult without funding from the community, according to Matthew Livingston ’26, a member of the marketing and fundraising team at Anabel’s.
Organizers aimed to raise $10,000 for Anabel’s. Last year, the store was able to raise about two-thirds of this amount, Livingston said. Prior to the event, $4,500 had been raised.
“It’s kind of like a cycle where you go to our store to buy very, very cheap food,” Livingston said. “And by buying the food, supporting the store [or] donating to the fundraiser, you help keep the prices low for people that need it.”
The event featured raffle tickets and a silent auction, as well as food, beverages and a performance from Cornell acappella group Nothing But Treble for attendees to enjoy.
The fundraiser was a collaboration between students from Applied Economics and Management 3385: Social Entrepreneurship Practicum: Anabel’s Grocery, Hotel Administration 4315: Nonprofit Social Enterprise and Food Justice and Hotel Administration 4340: Catering and Special Events Management.
“[Catering and Special Events Management] is in charge of actually running the event day of — we’re the operations team,” said Camille Dell’Olio ’24, a student in the Catering and Special Events Management class. “[Nonprofit Social Enterprise and Food Justice and Hotel Administration] is in charge of marketing and [public relations] functions behind the scenes.”
Visiting lecturer Anke Wessels teaches the Anabel’s class and serves as the director of the Center for Transformative Action, a fiscal sponsor for Anabel’s Grocery. She described the event as a “gift” from the hotel school.
“[Professors Kolakowski and Kingra of the Hotel Administration classes] decided it would be fun to hold a fundraiser as part of the experience of the two classes,” Wessels said. “They did that [for other organizations besides Anabel’s]… and then last fall they said ‘Hey, what if we do this for Anabel’s?’ Because it’s an obvious collaboration. It’s around food and food justice, and it’s right here on campus and would support students.”
Wessels explained that in the spring, Anabel’s can rely on Giving Day donations, but the fall gala offers an opportunity to spread the word about the organization and further grow the subsidy fund.
Teagan Smith ’25, the purchasing coordinator for Anabel’s, said fundraising is critical to the organization’s success.
“The subsidy fund is really our lifeblood in the store,” Smith said. “It’s what allows us to provide customers access to cultural, nutritious and local food at prices which continue to surprise our visitors. Subsidizing the food makes it more accessible to the many students on campus who will experience food insecurity in their time at Cornell.”
Livingston said that beyond students, the greater Ithaca community benefits from Anabel’s.
“I’ve seen my fair share of adults that go in and buy prepackaged meals and produce for a whole week because that’s what they use to cook their food — that’s incredible,” Livingston said.
During the event, Jacob Blizard ’25, who is part of Anabel’s store operations team, gave a short speech to attendees on the crucial role fundraisers play in supporting Anabel’s.
“All of the proceeds from this event are directly supporting the Cornell community. Anabel’s mainly operates off the subsidy fund that helps us keep prices low,” Blizard said. “We are trying to expand our outreach but stay rooted in providing fresh and affordable food.”
Several students — some of whom had direct connections to Anabel’s and others who did not — told The Sun they enjoyed the event.
Alexis Siegel ’25, who is part of the Anabel’s purchasing committee, said she thought the fundraiser was a success.
“I really enjoyed the fundraiser because it was a way in which people of different majors and interests could bond over a shared interest in food, social impact, and wellness,” Siegel said. “I enjoyed taking wellness shots with my friends, getting a portrait and entering the raffles knowing that I was supporting a cause that will benefit numerous students at Cornell as well as the environment.”
Samhita Raman ’25 said attending the event made her more eager to shop at Anabel’s in the future.
“I’m thinking I really should shop [at Anabel’s] more often,” Raman said. “This event is really inspiring.”