As a student body, we need to think about the relationship between food and power at this University. Through the lens of food, we can see the symptoms of structural racism. Through the lens of food, we can see how the University fails to effectively care for a significant portion of the student population. And through the lens of food, we can see a path forward.
In an effort to raise awareness about food insecurity in the greater Ithaca community, Cornell Hunger Relief placed posters on the arts quad containing shocking statistics about hunger in Tompkins County.
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.
As the U.S. faces a third wave of coronavirus cases and some cities and states prepare for another round of shutdowns, thousands of households are continuing to face economic hardship and food insecurity. Earlier this year, the Trump administration finalized a proposed rule change that would have blocked nearly 700,000 people from getting essential food assistance, one of three of the administration’s efforts to overhaul the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
The new rule would have affected the eligibility criteria for able-bodied adults with no dependents, limiting states’ ability to waive existing work mandates and requiring individuals to be employed to receive benefits. It was struck down last week by a federal judge after Pennsylvania and California residents sued Trump’s Agricultural Department. Critics say that this proposal is yet another attempt by the Trump administration to continue its deregulatory war on existing safety net programs, even as businesses struggle and the number of newly unemployed households remains high as a result of the pandemic. “The Final Rule at issue in this litigation radically and abruptly alters decades of regulatory practice, leaving States scrambling and exponentially increasing food insecurity for tens of thousands of Americans,” explained D.C Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell, in a 67-page opinion.
In an initiative pioneered by six animal sciences students, thousands of eggs from Cornell’s poultry farm, which are currently composted, will be cleaned and delivered to local food shelters to mitigate food insecurity in the area.