University Street Ministry is now Teen Feed. We’ve changed our name!
Over the last 20 years, we have worked with hundreds of volunteers, faith communities, and most importantly – homeless youth – who have come to know and trust us as University Street Ministry. But we decided that it is time to move on, to grow, and to change.
Why change our name?
Put simply, we wanted a name that better reflects who we are now and the work we do today. Our work began in 1986 when nurses from the University of Washington noticed that homeless youth were entering the emergency room severely malnourished. These nurses teamed up with community members and churches in the University District, and Teen Feed was born.
Over the years, what began as one night of food for hungry youth has blossomed into seven nights of healthy dinners, every week of the year. We’ve added Support Coordination and Street Outreach to help homeless youth at Teen Feed find their path from the streets. And we’ve built a strong network of community around youth who have otherwise been forgotten – nurses, church congregations, synagogues, schools, and so many individuals who care deeply and are moved to act.
On a matter-of-fact level, University Street Ministry has been somewhat of a challenging name. While we work in close tandem with volunteers who are people of faith, our work with youth on the streets has no religious or proselytizing component. Youth over the years have been understandably wary (until they get to know us!) that we may have some ulterior motive. Community members have asked us what church we are associated with.
And then some people just called us Teen Feed already!
We put a lot of thought into it.
The name Teen Feed places the volunteers and homeless youth at the center of what we do – because Teen Feed, the name of our largest program, is what youth and volunteers have called us for years. Teen Feed is clear, sharp, and easy to say. Teen Feed has tremendous community recognition.
The name Teen Feed reflects our history and our future. The community began Teen Feed, starting with just one night of meals and adding nights as they were able. It was after this that University Street Ministry was formed as a nonprofit to support the meal program. To place all of our work – Street Outreach, Support Coordination, and Meals – under the name Teen Feed is an exciting and cohesive way to approach the work ahead.
Teen Feed has an instant connotation. You have at least one picture of the work we do, and your your heart is captured to hear more, to do more.
Teen Feed is what the youth and community call us, and it is where the vast majority of these stakeholders connect with us first. We’ll continue to do the work that offers support to meet basic needs, builds strong relationships, and allies with homeless youth as they meet their future off the street. And although University Street Ministry still slips out from time to time, we already feel at home in our new name.
Teen Feed: Offer. Build. Ally.