Statistics from the 2015 Perception of Undergraduate Life and Student Experiences (PULSE) Survey suggest 1 in 5 Cornell students are food insecure. This means they skip meals because they have financial constraints. This troubling statistic is what led Cornell students’ Emma Johnson and Mark Stefanko, (now graduates) to tackle this issue head-on.
They envisioned a campus where all students would be able to afford and access quality food and that no one would have difficulty due to hunger or lack of nutrition. This vision has spurred the development of Anabel’s Grocery, a student-run grocery store to be housed in Anabel Taylor Hall on the Cornell campus. Recently, I sat down with Anabel’s Director of Public Relations, Nicholas Karavolias, who shared some exciting details about this new project.
Anabel’s mission and purpose is broader than a grocery store, Karavolias shared. It’s creation involved an extensive 2 & 1/2 year-long planning process. This process has involved working with local Architects to design a space, creating essential partnerships, building relationships and deciding how exactly they would systematically address the underlying issue of food insecurity on campus. Extensive fundraising was involved through various avenues. The planning team thought through core issues and programming needs like; what about students’ nutrition needs over the university holidays for those that stay on campus, and how to foster discussion and round tables around food insecurity issues.
Food insecurity is multifaceted, Karavolias said, and involves 3 main components- access, or physical proximity to food, affordability, and use (nutritional knowledge to be able to prepare food). Anabel’s mission addresses food insecurity by operating an accessible and affordable store right at the center of campus, and also by increasing food literacy through cooking classes and nutrition education.
Anabel’s Grocery will be available to undergraduate and graduate students. Students will be asked to register and will be given the option of applying for a subsidy fund, to ensure that those who are food insecure will always have the opportunity to purchase affordable food. The store will be student-run and opportunities will become available for work-study. Anabel’s plans to foster events to promote healthy living and a community around food.
The store will primarily stock fresh produce, pantry essentials, and perishable food items. To learn more about Anabel’s or to contact a member of their team, and to inquire about volunteer efforts, please visit their website at http://anabelsgrocery.org/about. Please consider providing support to the store at their “support us” link. All contributions will go toward their subsidy fund to ensure that all students gain accessibility to this store.
Anabel’s is a project of the Center for Transformative Action, a 501(c)3 organization based in Ithaca, NY. It is set to open at the start of Spring semester, 2017.