GUEST ROOM | Food security is an essential function of Cornell University

When University leadership developed Cornell’s reopening plan, they committed to the safety and health of the student body and Cornell employees. Largely, as it relates to COVID-19, we applaud their commitment. Unfortunately, Cornell’s dedicated attention to pandemic-related safety ignores many structural issues on campus that threaten the health and wellbeing of both undergraduate and graduate students. Access to fresh, nutritious and affordable food is one of the most glaring examples, and it is worsening because of COVID-19. 

Unfortunately, this phenomenon does not surprise the team at Anabel’s Grocery. Food security was already a concern at Cornell and campuses across the nation before the pandemic.

Anabel’s Pop-Up: A Successful First Run

The long-anticipated Anabel’s Grocery made a brief appearance last week with a soft-opening pop-up shop in Willard Straight Hall. The store was able to show off products, as well as test out its equipment and check-out process.

Proponents of Anabel’s Grocery Hold Panel

Executive board members of Anabel’s Grocery  hosted a panel Tuesday in Goldwin Smith Hall in an attempt to eliminate doubt about the existence of food insecurity on Cornell campus and to validate the recently approved grocery project. Lizzi Gorman ’18 opened the discussion by defining food insecurity as “not having financial and physical means to reach your nutritional needs at any given time.”

Gorman said Anabel’s Grocery is striving to make food insecurity, a potentially stigmatizing topic among students from different socioeconomic backgrounds, an open discussion. According to the 2015 Perception of Undergraduate Life and Student Experiences survey, 8.4 percent of 4,419 students surveyed have skipped meals due to financial constraint either “often” or “very often” in the past year. “Students harbor a lot of shame about being food insecure and without a structured conversation we can’t talk about it,” said Nicholas Karavolias ’18, a member of Anabel’s Grocery’s executive board. Karavolias said he hopes the opening of Anabel’s Grocery in February will facilitate constructive conversation by making the availability of convenient and affordable food for all students a recognized priority.