Anabel’s Market: Not Your Typical Market
On February 15, 2023, Anabel’s Grocery opened for the first time this year. A student-run, nonprofit, Anabel’s focuses not only on providing affordable food to Cornellians, but also on building a community around food justice. Undergraduates taking or graduating from AEM 3385 are continually planning events and launching initiatives that benefit clients. From collaborations with downtown charities to cooking classes, unlike your typical grocery store, there’s always more going on here beyond food sales, making Anabel’s a unique on-campus social enterprise. With multiple projects in progress, we can look forward to what staff are working on for the remainder of this period.
In the first month of opening, many successes have already been celebrated at Anabel’s. On March 5, the Collaborative Education committee held Toast-A-Thon, a community brunch with Prisoner Express at the Durland Alternatives Library. Prisoner Express is an organization that instills hope in detainees with its poetry, painting and writing programs. Attendees sent letters and book packages to the needy while enjoying bread provided by Wide Awake, a local Ithaca bakery focused on sustainability and community empowerment.
Another very recent event hosted by Anabel’s staff was a cooking demonstration on Saturday, March 11 at noon. Held at 660 Stewart Avenue, staff taught attendees how to prepare a vegetable lentil coconut curry using only store-bought ingredients. More free demos can be expected in the future. RSVP links to these events were posted on Anabel’s Instagram page.
In addition to classes, there are other ways to learn cooking skills directly in the shop. Weekly recipes are printed and available throughout the logbook and are also posted on Anabel’s website. From overnight oats to vegan mac and cheese, there’s a lot to learn as all the ingredients are stocked here. Weekly dinner sets are also available in the shop; packaged products encourage students to incorporate new foods into their lives while trying to eat a more balanced diet. Brand new dishes will be available every Wednesday.
Looking ahead, this is an important week for Anabel’s and its annual Donation Day falls on Thursday, March 16. The staff prepares a phone call to raise money for the store. This is an excellent opportunity to donate online and support the organization’s mission. The next day, March 17, at 6:30 p.m., the Global Learning Office Community Dinner is held. The event centers around international cuisine, and in addition to Anabel’s, other groups will be cooking for the night. Future community meals are planned by staff, potentially including a meal to be held at the Botanic Gardens.
With so many new students added to the roster this term, an increasing number of events further unites Anabel’s community. Elinor Belhman ’26, a volunteer at both Prisoner Express and the store, describes her time at the company so far: “I loved getting to know everyone who works at Anabel’s. It’s definitely a place that brings people together and there’s a strong sense of community there.” said Elinor. Meanwhile, new staff member Ishani Chopra ’24 appreciates the hours she spends working in the store: “It’s interesting to see how well Anabel works without hierarchy. It requires everyone’s effort and communication, and we are working collectively to develop Anabel for our clients and future students who will work there,” she said.
Ishani, along with many others, defines Anabel for her unique setting and close-knit group of volunteers. Open from 12 to 19:00 on Wednesdays and Fridays, and from 12 to 15:00 on Saturdays, the store can be found at Anabel Taylor Hall. As both teaching Anabel’s class and leading the staff, Dr. Anke Wessels is very pleased with the progress the store has made so far: “Anabel’s has had a great start this term! We have served more than 1700 customers since we opened on February 15, 500 more than last year in the same time frame. The number of transactions using SNAP/EBT has tripled since last year. The most popular items sold are eggs, Wide Awake Bakery bread, and a variety of fruit and vegetables at very low prices. We are a valuable resource for all Cornell students, saving them both time and money and making it easier for them to get essential groceries.”
Anabel’s Grocery is appreciated not only for the resources and opportunities this organization has created, but also for the bonds it creates among students. I think young Lauren Mukaigawa ’24 best describes Anabel’s experience so far: “Working at Anabel’s opened my eyes to the impact the store has had beyond itself. It is exciting to see the relationships we develop with local co-ops, vendors and campus organizations.” With so much of the term still behind us, it’s exciting to imagine what surprises Anabel’s team has for Cornell. Again and again, the group continues to unite the university under the common goal of delivering quality and affordable food.
Kira Walter is a freshman in the Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences. it can be reached [email protected]