Socks in Short Supply This Winter

interns in outreachOn at least three days a week, Teen Feed’s Street Talk Outreach Program (STOP) hits the U-District streets with food and socks to give away as they meet homeless young people in the streets and alleys where they spend time.  We see it as an opportunity to connect with the most at-risk youth, who, as a result of past trauma, may be more distrustful of adults and more resistant to accessing traditional social services than their peers.

The STOP team has noticed an incredible increase in the number of contacts we make with youth during outreach.   By the end of 2014, STOP is now on target to make nearly 2,400 contacts with homeless youth through outreach, which is a 50% increase from last year!  That means STOP will distribute 50% more socks this year as well!  That’s a lot of socks! 

With the winter months fast approaching, youth need dry, warm socks now more than ever.  Current supplies will not last long!

Teen Feed’s STOP team relies on generous community members like you to supply the basic needs items that homeless youth so desperately need.  Here are three ways to get involved.

All three ways of giving are vital to the success of this program, and every single donation received will help keep a homeless, young person warm and dry this winter.  Please consider giving the gift of protection from severe weather this winter.

Volunteer Spotlight: Rhonda Ellis

We are very happy to announce that Advocate Volunteer, Rhonda Ellis, is November’s Volunteer Spotlight.   Rhonda is originally from Kansas City, Missouri.  She has always wanted to live close to the mountains, and, ever since being recruited by Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center 16 years ago, she has enjoyed calling Seattle her home. Rhonda has been a nurse since 1981, and brings her skills and amazing bed side manner to her interactions with guest and volunteers alike.

When did you start at Teen Feed? What inspired you to volunteer with us?

It’s been over a year. June of 2013 is when I started. At Fred Hutch, we have an employee bulletin board. Lisa, another advocate, had posted a request for shoe donations and a little information about Teen Feed, and I thought, “That’s cool.” That’s how I learned about Teen Feed.

I had always wanted to find a way to support people around finding options, and this has been great. Through my own experiences, I know this is important work. Whether it’s someone needing a role model or a familiar face of someone who listens to them, I can be there to offer something. It’s awkward for me sometimes, trying to figure out how to connect with different guests. Sometimes I feel like a square trying to fit into a circle, but I am learning.

What was your impression of Teen Feed when you started?

I was really (and I still am) in awe, of the education, training, and support that Teen Feed provides to us as volunteers. That’s been really impressive! The de-escalation training, “The Ropes: Understanding Youth Homelessness” training, the anti-racism and privilege training.  These trainings are such great educational opportunities. I have really appreciated how the program coordinators are able to track the emotional well being of both guests and volunteers during meals, with everything that is going on. I noticed how intentional Teen Feed staff is about the setup of the meal space and making sure guests and volunteers feel safe and welcome.

We love food here at Teen Feed. What did you eat today?

Only this latte!

How does volunteering at Teen Feed affect other parts of your life?

Exposure to diversity has been great for me. The guests have taught me a lot about how to be more open and more comfortable. I had always thought I was pretty open to different things, but I have really learned a lot, and it’s because of Teen Feed’s influence.

What is your favorite meal you have at Teen Feed?

I like the meals that have lots of vegetables, and I notice that the guests like them too! I like to eat healthy. It is nice to have colorful choices with the meals. The Bastyr Meal Team just outdoes itself with all the fresh colorful vegetables they bring in.

What advice would you give to new volunteers?

Take advantage of the trainings, use the debrief sessions, and, if you have questions or concerns, make sure you talk to your program coordinator or Chris (U District Meal Programs Coordinator).



Teen Feed’s More than a Meal Luncheon a Success!

Thank you to everyone who attended!  Teen Feed’s 2nd Annual “More than a Meal” Luncheon raised over $50,000 to meet the immediate needs of King County youth in need!  Our speakers, Mythayah and Carnella inspired community for youth and bravely shared how Teen Feed helped them to meet their futures!

Take a look at this slideshow of beautiful photos taken at the event by Tilly Goble of Naissance Studios!

Thanks to our generous sponsors, 100% of the dollars raised will directly support Teen Feed’s meal, outreach, support, and healthcare coordination programs.  If you were unable to attend the Luncheon, click here to make a gift in support of basic needs for young people.

Thank You to Our Generous Sponsors!

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Special thanks to:

Swansons Nursery
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Teen Feed’s Annual Luncheon – Directions, Parking, Maps and more!

We look forward to seeing you at Teen Feed’s Annual Luncheon on Thursday, October 9th at University of Washington HUB’s North Ballroom! Teen Feed volunteers will be in University of Washington’s Red Square to welcome you and provide assistance finding your way.  Click here  for a map of how to access the Teen Feed luncheon on the UW Campus.


Driving directions by car, click here.
(use Central Plaza Garage Gatehouse as your destination if parking and 4001 E Stevens Way NE if being dropped off)
Directions by King County Metro Bus click here.
(use NE 41st & 15th NE as your destination)

Parking Options:

UW Central Plaza Parking – Parking is available at the Central Plaza Parking Garage at NE 41st and 15th Ave NE. Central Plaza Garage parking costs $3 per hour, and require a $15 hold on your card for entry. Upon exit, your card will be credited back any unused funds based on the $3 per hour rate. Please note the entrance to the Central Plaza Parking garage on the map below.

Street Parking – Local street parking is available. Parking meters noting 4 hours, charge $1.50 per hour. Parking meters noting 2 hours, charge $2.00 per hour. Visa, Mastercard, and coins are accepted at street parking meters.

ADA Parking – Should you require ADA parking accessibility, please check in with the attendant at the campus gatehouse and inform them you are attending the Teen Feed luncheon. They will provide you with an ADA permit to access the Padelford Parking lot, steps from the HUB entrance. If you park in the HUB parking lot without an ADA permit, your car may be ticketed and towed. Please note the campus entrance at NE 41st & 15th NE on the map below.


For a map on how to find the HUB, click here or see below.
For a complete map of the UW campus, click here.
2014 Luncheon Map
Please note: RSVPs and changes to attendance will be accepted through 3:00pm on Wednesday, October 8th. Should you have any questions, additions or changes, please reach Suzanne Sullivan at or 206.949.1092. For any adjustments after that time, please visit the troubleshooting table at luncheon registration.

We look forward to seeing you on Thursday!

Thank you, Gates Foundation!

Day of Caring 09 19 14 27 enewsOn September 19, 2014, an energetic crew of Gates Foundation employees spent half their day scrubbing away at, not one, but two of the industrial-sized kitchens at our University District meal sites. It was all part of United Way’s Day of Caring, when 11,800 employees from local companies banded together to donate their time and energy to nonprofits throughout the region.

Day of Caring 09 19 14 17Teen Feed and our many volunteers are proud to serve youth 365 days a year, but that consistency in service can take a toll on the kitchens we serve from.  Periodic deep cleaning is a necessary and somewhat daunting task. Their go-getter grit and enduring positivity in tow, these Gates Foundation volunteers really rolled up their sleeves and left us with well-organized closets and bright-sparkling sinks, fridges, and countertops.

Thanks to the Gates Foundation for their valuable contribution to our work, cleaning our kitchens so that we’re better able to provide meals and support to homeless and unstably-housed youth in our community.

Click here for our Gates Foundation UWKC Day of Caring Facebook photo album!

Volunteer Spotlight: Carole Brand

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It’s simple. It’s relationships.

It is our extreme privilege to announce that Advocate Volunteer, Carole Brand, is this month’s Volunteer Spotlight! From Canada and New York to the beautiful Great Britain, Carole has called some amazing locales home, so we count ourselves very lucky that she has settled down here in Washington and now joins us as a volunteer at Teen Feed. As a registered nurse, Carole is devoted to making a difference for our guests at program every Sunday night.  It’s truly inspiring.

When did you start at Teen Feed? What was your first impression? 

My first orientation was in early November 2013. A couple of years ago I was recently retired and looking for something to do as a volunteer.  My friend Jenny Rose had mentioned Teen Feed.  We emailed back and forth for a while, but it sort of went out of my mind, and I just went on my merry way. A year or so went by, and I ran into Jenny again, two days after I had received some good news. She invited me to the “More than a Meal” Luncheon, and I thought, “This must be what I am supposed to be doing”. I went to the next orientation and the rest is history.

At first I was a little overwhelmed. I am a registered nurse, so I am used to taking care of people, but I had not dealt with anything quite like this. I had to rethink things I had previously thought about homelessness. Little by little I started realizing that these are people that are in a really different place than I am, and, with just a little help, they might be able to make a change. It was an overwhelming and stunning experience, because we are not used to seeing the whole picture.

Do you remember your first night? 

I do. I got there, and one of the coordinators who I had met briefly the night of my orientation, let me in. He welcomed me and gave me an outline of what Teen Feed does. He paired me with Volunteer Advocate, Brad, and I shadowed him all night. Brad was very good at involving me. I certainly didn’t feel like a bump on the log. I had anticipated being able to communicate faster and easier. In reality, these guests were in a very different place, and some of them weren’t ready to talk. It was hard. I went home with the thought that I was going to have to learn a lot, but I’m committed. I committed, and I have only missed one day since I started. I was going to do this.

What did you eat today?

Today? This morning I had half of a marionberry muffin, blueberries, and water. Just before I came here, I made myself a little cheese sandwich, and I had some green beans that I roasted, and some yogurt. I like to eat, and the best context I have with guests at Teen Feed is with those who like to eat.

How has volunteering at Teen Feed changed or affected other parts of your life?

I live in a bit of a cocooned world at the moment. I live in Edmonds, and you I don’t really see homelessness in Edmonds. I think I look at homeless youth with more compassion than I used to. It’s hard for me to think that other people don’t think the way I do, or aren’t able to do things that I have been able to do. I think it’s the realization that our guests don’t have a lot of control, and that for most of them, it’s not their choice that they’re here. I think that is the biggest change for me.

What advice would you give to new volunteers? 

Not to get discouraged in the early weeks that you volunteer. There can be a feeling that you’re not getting it. As much as you can ask questions of who your Program Coordinator is, or other advocates, it is still your responsibility to try to jump in and talk to somebody. That’s the hardest thing, is if you sit at a table, and a person doesn’t want to talk to you, not to feel intimidated by that. They are the guest, and we need to remember to adjust to what they need, not what we need. It’s not all about us, it’s all about them. If they don’t want to talk to you, don’t take it personally. Give it a good shot before you decide not to do it. You are not always going to click with every guest, and they won’t always click with you, and you have to be OK with that.

What is your favorite meal you have had at Teen Feed?

Last night!  We had salmon that had been baked with this amazing crust on it that had been made from crushed Ritz crackers, and a bowl of fresh cut bell peppers, tomatoes, and fruit salad. It was tasty and pretty, and had a lot of vibrant colors.

Is there anything else you haven’t shared, that you would like to, about your experience? 

I try to interact with everybody, especially the other volunteers. I think it is important for us to be close as a team, and the Sunday night team is great, and we work very well together because of this.


Youth Story: “It’s Not Naive to Work Toward a Better World”

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Just a few weeks ago, at a local youth shelter where Teen Feed provides support services to youth, Teen Feed Support Coordinator, Hatlo, had an extra-special interaction with one particular young person.

The story is quite moving.  Here it is, in Hatlo’s own words:

When I met R. he told me it was only his second time spending the night at ROOTS Young Adult Shelter, but that he’d been homeless on and off for several years. We sat together at his mat, and the interaction felt very personal, like I was being invited into his living room.

R. told me that three years ago he had come to Seattle from Alaska for a tech internship, but once the internship ended, he had a difficult time staying on his feet.   Since then he has had some stints of employment, but nothing that worked out long-term.  As of now, he has been homeless for the last four months.

R. doesn’t like to rely on services unless he really has to, and he mostly gets by couch surfing with friends or sleeping outside.  I asked him if he knew about Teen Feed, and he said that he’d heard about it through word of mouth from other young people but wasn’t sure what it was all about.   I explained all of the different services Teen Feed provides and told him what my role at Teen Feed is.  I joked that my job is to offer guests armfuls of resources and informed him of various services that he could connect to.

When I finished explaining Teen Feed, he told me that he felt like he should give me something because of all the useful information I had shared with him. He reached into his back pocket and handed me a folded piece of brown paper.  Printed on the paper was a quote that read:

“We will never have a perfect world, but it’s not romantic or naïve to work toward a better one.” – Steven Pinker. 

He told me he had been walking through an alley one day and saw the quote on a bag in the garbage.  He tore it off because it really resonated with him. And now he was offering it to me.  I told him that I thought he should keep it, because it seemed like it meant a lot to him and it’s the kind of quote I would want to be able to pull out of my back pocket when I was having a hard day.

Instead of accepting the piece of paper from him, I asked him if he’d be okay with me taking a picture of the quote alongside his shoes (when I approached him he was pulling drenched socks off his feet and his shoes were really torn up and very wet). He said that would be OK.  He told me that he’d been wearing the shoes for a long time and that maybe it was time to get something better suited for the weather. I encouraged him to come to Teen Feed to have a warm meal and get a new pair of weather-appropriate shoes.

He’s a great kid, and I look forward to working with him in the future.  I wanted to share this photo because the experience meant so much to me, and the quote represented our mission so eloquently.


Volunteer Spotlight: Oliver P.

Volunteer Spotlight: Oliver

It is our extreme privilege to announce Oliver P. as our September Volunteer Spotlight! Born and raised in Seattle. WA, Oliver brings unbridled enthusiasm and warmth to program every week. He is a recent high school graduate, and plays six instruments, including the alto sax and ukulele. Oliver P. is an unmovable mountain of warmth and commitment.

When did you start at Teen Feed? What was your first impression?

I started in March of 2013 during my last year of high school. We had a senior project, and I needed some community service hours.   My mom and I were looking for opportunities on the internet, and Teen Feed popped out at me. So, I went to the orientation and really connected with everything that Jason, the meal programs coordinator, said.  Teen Feed was a good fit for me.

Do you remember your first night?

I worked as an ally in the basic needs supply closet with two other volunteers named Noah and Max.  We had a great time bonding with one another.  The experience convinced me that Teen Feed was where I wanted to be.

What did you eat today?

I haven’t yet. I had a bottle of water, if that counts.  Oh, and a mocha.

How has volunteering at Teen Feed changed or affected other parts of your life?

Volunteering at Teen Feed has made me appreciate what I have and changed my perspective on life. It has given me an awareness of homelessness that I didn’t have before and has also taught me how to get along with people.  It’s helped me mature, I guess.  It’s been a great experience.

What advice would you give to new volunteers?

The biggest thing I would recommend is to be open-minded about everything, especially if you don’t have a lot of experience with homelessness.   Get to know guests and other volunteers and treat them like family.

Is there anything else you haven’t shared, that you would like to, about your experience?

If you want to have a unique volunteer experience that is unlike anything else, you should volunteer at Teen Feed. You will get so much more out of volunteering for those two hours than you would get with any other volunteer opportunity.  As a Teen Feed volunteer, you play an integral part in strengthening your community.


Teen Feed Youth Access to Care (YAC) In Year #2

We were excited to announce the launch of Teen Feed’s new Youth Access to Care (YAC) program on year ago.  Now in our second year we continue to providing support for homeless and street-involved youth and young adults accessing healthcare resources.  We are growing.

The first of its kind in Washington State, the YAC Program helps youth navigate complicated healthcare systems to make positive choices and live healthy lives.

Only when the immediate needs of homeless youth are met, can they begin to identify goals and develop a strategy to exit street life. One important component of such strategies is access to affordable healthcare. Access to affordable and supportive healthcare is a critical next step for youth managing mental health and chemical dependency challenges as well as the emotional and physical impacts of homelessness.

In November 2013, Teen Feed entered into a partnership with the Washington Health Benefit Exchange (WHBE) as In-Person Outreach and Enrollment Assisters, helping homeless, at-risk, and food insecure youth enroll in Medicaid or qualified health plans.  Youth in need work with specially trained Teen Feed staff members to help them determine eligibility for financial assistance, compare plans side-by-side, and to select and enroll in a health plan that’s right for them.

And yet, finding and selecting a health plan is only the first step. That is where Teen Feed’s new program, YAC picks up. The program will support Teen Feed’s ongoing process of enrolling homeless youth and young adults into insurance programs, and provide a warm hand-off to each individual’s new primary care provider, helping them develop a health action plan to meet their individual needs with self-directed goals and activities.

YAC coordinators will help youth:

  • find providers within a network
  • choose a primary care provider
  • follow through on scheduled appointments
  • build supportive and positive relationships with care providers

The goal of YAC is to help homeless youth actively participate in their wellness, making positive choices to help them optimize health and well-being to achieve stability.

Teen Feed’s YAC program is funded by a $100,000 grant from the Pacific Hospital Preservation & Development Authority (PHPDA). PHPDA’s mission is to champion effective health care for vulnerable and disadvantaged people in our community.  PHPDA’s generous support of YAC allows Teen Feed to broaden its immediate basic needs support for youth, to help the young people we serve get the most out of their newly acquired health benefits.

The YAC program is open to all youth & young adult service providers in King County and will complement Teen Feed’s existing meal, support coordination, and street outreach programs.

The YAC program will officially launch on August 15, 2014.  For questions, please see the contacts below:

  • If you are a community partner looking to partner with Teen Feed, click here.
  • If you are a service provider interested in learning about available YAC services, click here.
  • For media and all other inquiries, click here.



Ladies Night Out to Benefit Teen Feed

Visit Swansons Nursery on September 6th for a fabulous night of food, wine and shopping to benefit Teen Feed.  

Ladies Night  Out

Swansons Nursery will be showcasing their beautiful gift department with a first look at Fall/Winter and Holiday gifts. All proceeds from ticket sales, wine sales and raffle ticket sales will go to support Teen Feed! Last year the event raised $3k and this year they’re hoping to beat that!  We are very grateful to Swansons Nursery for so generously putting on this wonderful fundraiser.

When: Saturday, September 6, 2014, 6-9 p.m.

Where: Swansons Nursery

What: An evening of shopping, friends, and fun to support local charity Teen Feed

Cost: $10, includes entry and 1 glass of wine

Discover jewelry, soaps, miniature gardening supplies and accessories and don’t miss the scarf-tying demonstration. Enjoy live music, wine tasting, appetizers and dessert bites while shopping and socializing. Support Teen Feed by purchasing raffle tickets to win fabulous prizes, including 10 pieces of Boma jewelry – they’ll be giving one piece away every 15 minutes!

Tickets may be purchased here or on-site at Swansons Nursery, beginning in mid-August. 100% of ticket proceeds will go to Teen Feed.