Kelsey Griffin

2017 The Visionary


Kelsey Griffin is a visionary. And as a result of her vision, hungry metro Detroit residents are getting hot meals at night. Her vision for recovering food from restaurants and area cafeterias and taking it to local shelters has been incredibly successful and her work is garnering a lot of attention.

In the fall of 2014, Kelsey founded a chapter of the national Food Recovery Network at UM-Dearborn. She then successfully negotiated a partnership with UM-Dearborn’s food service provider, Picasso Restaurant Group. This partnership allows students from the group to come to Picasso’s kitchen two nights a week at close to “recover” the food leftover from the day that would otherwise have been disposed. The students then transport the food to St. Patrick’s Food Pantry in Detroit, with whom Kelsey has also forged a partnership.

Within a month, more than 100 pounds of food had been transported. Additionally, she organized the student organization to participate during the holidays in the packaging of meal boxes that fed 285 children in more than 100 Detroit families.

“I feel that by working to try to improve the sustainability of our campus food system and secure food for Detroiters, I have taken my first steps toward achieving my personal goal of improving the health of a greater community,” said Kelsey.

It was after researching the urban agriculture movement in Detroit for a freshman composition class that Kelsey became interested in working toward a more environmentally sound and secure food system, both on campus and within Detroit.

To date, she leads more than 100 student volunteers who have committed their time to food recovery. She has forged partnerships with local Dearborn restaurants to grow the amount of food her team can recover, and has been invited to Ann Arbor to help their Food Recovery Network chapter improve their processes. 

Her next steps include raising campus awareness about issues of hunger through a film showing and panel discussion, and working with faculty studying food pantries.

“I have no doubt that at this time next year we will be truly amazed at what Kelsey has continued to accomplish,” said Amy Finley, assistant director for civic engagement. “It is her belief that no one should go hungry. She knows that she has the tools to make a difference in this effort, and so she does.”

Kelsey maintains stellar grades while also working as a certified nurse assistant. She also is the volunteer coordinator for the Pre-Professional Health Society on campus. Off campus, she is an experienced ski-instructor and ski-racing coach for kids. Whether she’s serving up a skiing lesson or dishing out some warm meals, Kelsey will continue to make an impact within the community.