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Jack Griffin: From a Young Entrepreneur to a 30 Under 30 Forbes Social Impact Recipient

About the CEO

Jack Griffin is the CEO and Founder of FoodFinder, a national non-profit organization that uses both its website and mobile app to help food insecure families locate food assistance programs in their area. Griffin graduated from the University of Michigan where he obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. He has been leading FoodFinder since 2014 and is currently residing in Atlanta, Georgia. He was recently featured in the Forbes 30 under 30 list for Social Impact in 2022.

Griffin’s Roots

Jack Griffin was born in Michigan but grew up in Atlanta, Georgia where he first launched FoodFinder, a food pantry locator and a 501(c)(3) organization. Griffin is the first in his family to start an entrepreneurship and activism career but his family’s values and hard-working mindset have inspired him to help many families nationwide. He attended the University of Michigan where he studied Business Administration and Social Work.

Griffin has been leading FoodFinder’s mission over the past nine years; six years in which he was a full-time student completing high school and college. Griffin started to develop FoodFinder in 2013 after watching a news story that informed him of how financial crises caused by the Great Recession made it difficult for food insecure families. Griffin was deeply moved and decided to create an organization that would provide resources to families and help fight food insecurity and hunger in America.

A Full Plate: Juggling FoodFinder and School

In 2014, FoodFinder was launched but allocating the funds for the organization was challenging, especially since Griffin was a young entrepreneur still attending high school who needed to gain more experience. Therefore, Griffin spent his four years in college juggling being a full-time student and developing FoodFinder into a national organization. When asked how he balanced his academics while running a non-profit organization, Griffin responded “I’m not sure, I’ll let you know once I figure it out.”

Griffin took advantage of the resources that his university had at his disposal as a student entrepreneur. Over the next few years, he was able to organize fundraisers and expand FoodFinder’s platform. Griffin seeked mentorship advice from fellow student entrepreneurs and faculty members whom he was able to build relationships with.

In the summer of 2016, FoodFinder received its first major grant of $18,000 from the Arby’s Foundation which went towards the app development for iOS and Android platforms. Over the years, Griffin received direct support from the University of Michigan, both through educational resources and financial support. On the educational side, he was able to apply what he learned in his social work and business classes to FoodFinder. Griffin spent his college years doing pitch competitions, participating in grant programs for student entrepreneurs, and other center programs which allowed him to raise more than $30,000 for FoodFinder. Before graduating from college, Griffin wasn’t sure if he would continue with FoodFinder since he needed to continue to raise funds to keep the organization running. During spring break of his senior year, he spent his time writing a 30-page grant proposal for a Walmart grant. Luckily for Griffin, he received his first six-figure grant from the Walmart Foundation which went towards FoodFinder’s funding and established a payroll for the organization for the first time in six years. After graduating from college in 2019, Griffin made leading FoodFinder his full-time job.

Partnering with Google

When the pandemic hit in 2020, Griffin and his team were faced with some challenges but also opportunities that would benefit FoodFinder in the following months. At the start of the pandemic, costs went up for the organization and funding opportunities were cancelled due to the impact of COVID-19. However, despite the financial challenges, FoodFinder was able to persevere and went from serving 700 people per day to 3,000-4,000 people daily, which quadrupled compared to their average pre-pandemic traffic levels. In the last 18 months, FoodFinder has helped 1.3 million Americans nationwide.

A year after the pandemic, FoodFinder was able to build a partnership with Google to introduce a new nationwide hunger relief platform, along with the organization No Kid Hungry and the USDA to help people find a food support program in their area. Google’s Find Food Support Google Map locator tool includes food banks, food pantries, and school lunch programs that people can search in their area (Costanzo, 2021). Griffin hopes to continue his partnership with Google and plans to add more features to the FoodFinder platform such as; “foreign language translation, color-coded pins to differentiate full-time food pantries from school meal sites and pop-up food distributions, and information on other aid programs [their] users can turn to for help.” Griffin is looking forward to attending the Federal White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health this September. The White House is hosting the conference for the first time in over 50 years and will address how to accelerate progress and drive significant change to end hunger, improve nutrition and physical activity, reduce diet-related disease, and close the disparities around them (The White House, 2022).

Advice to College Students

Griffin feels extremely grateful and lucky for the opportunities and resources he has been able to allocate for FoodFinder over the years. What Griffin is most proud of in his career is being able to give his mother a full-time job with FoodFinder after she gave up her career to take care of him when he had dire health problems as an infant.

Griffin’s hard work and perseverance through many challenges – including the pandemic – has paid off, as this year, Griffin is a recipient of the 30 Under 30 Forbes Social Impact award. He hopes to continue to deliver FoodFinder’s mission to fight hunger in America and advocate for food insecurity. He encourages students who are seeking a career in the non-profit sector to: “Listen and learn from the people you want to serve. Rid yourself of all biases and assumptions when you begin your work and only assume that you don’t really know anything. Be honest with yourself going into it and understand why you’re doing what you do. And make sure that you love what you do too!”

Griffin’s entrepreneurial journey exhibits perseverance and dedication. His passion to serve the community has allowed him to help many Americans over the past nine years. With his hard work, family values, and education, Griffin has been able to create a successful platform that serves and advocates for food insecure families in the U.S., and he loves doing it too!

Interested in learning more about FoodFinder? Check out the links below!

 https://foodfinder.us/about-us
https://www.flipcause.com/secure/cause_pdetails/NDgzNjk= 
https://www.instagram.com/foodfinderus/ 

References

Costanzo, C. (2021). Behind Google’s New Pantry Locator Service. Food Bank News. https://foodbanknews.org/behind-googles-new-pantry-locator-service/

The White House. (2022, May 4). White House Announces Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health in September. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/05/04/white-house-announces-conference-on-hunger-nutrition-and-health-in-september/