Stephen Griffin, Foodnet Founder Retires in 2016
Griffin, a native of the Syracuse area, graduated from Cornell in 1976 and immediately started to apply his skills, talents, and knowledge to what is now called “food security” for older adults in Tompkins County. Beginning his work with the Salvation Army’s nutrition for the elderly program Griffin drew attention to the unmet nutritional and health needs of County seniors. Following extensive community conversations and planning Foodnet was born in 1986. Griffin was instrumental in these efforts and was named to lead the new agency.
Since those early days Foodnet Meals on Wheels, under Griffin’s visionary leadership, has continued to meet the nutritional needs of County older adults, not only through home delivered meals, but also through meals at four congregate nutrition sites – Groton, Titus Towers in Ithaca, Lansing, and Trumansburg.
As important as the meals are to the well being of County seniors, however, Foodnet under Griffin’s tutelage has become more than just a meal. The program is unique in senior services because it sends trained drivers out to all corners of the County to make personal contact five days a week with people who might otherwise not speak with another person all day. For many seniors Foodnet is the difference between being able to remain in their own homes versus more institutional alternatives.
Beyond his direct work with Foodnet Griffin has been involved with and often held leadership roles in many professional organizations at the local, state, and national level including New York Association of Nutrition and Aging Services, Meals on Wheels New York, Meals on Wheels America, and the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
In his community work Griffin has been involved with a wide variety of local organizations over his career, but his involvement with United Way of Tompkins County stands out. United Way Executive Director James Brown recently said, “Steve Griffin represents the highest form of community leadership through service. If an activity will benefit the greater community, Steve will lead, facilitate and participate. Steve’s departure will leave a void in this community. It will also leave a legacy of service, caring, and generosity that has made this community stronger and a better place for all.”