A Message from Tabitha Jensen: Farewell to Teen Feed

Tabitha Headshot

Dear Teen Feed Partners and Friends,

It is with a heavy heart that I share the news that I am departing from Teen Feed. After much consideration, my partner and I have made the decision to move home to Portland, Oregon this summer to be closer to our families.

This was a difficult decision to make. Over the last 2 1/2 years, I have deeply enjoyed building relationships with you  – the community members so passionately dedicated to improve the dignity and quality of life for homeless and street involved youth in Seattle and King County. To Teen Feed’s committed volunteers providing family-like experience for youth, dedicated youth service provider partners, and the generous community of donors and funding partners, I say THANK YOU for your commitment to the incredible young people at Teen Feed and in our communities.

Over the coming weeks, the Teen Feed ​Board of Directors will be working to identify an experienced Interim Executive Director to guide Teen Feed into its next stage of organizational growth and strategic planning in providing for youth in need. During this transition and beyond, Teen Feed’s youth-focused programming, dedicated staff, and community volunteers will continue to transform the lives of youth as it has consistently since 1987.

I hope you will stay in touch. I can be reached at tabitha.jensen@gmail.com.  Should you have any questions related to Teen Feed, please reach Suzanne Sullivan, Director of Development and Communications at suzanne@teenfeed.org or 206.949.1092.

With hope and respect,

Tabitha Signature

Tabitha Jensen

“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.


Meet Our Newest Team Members!

Teen Feed is excited to officially welcome two new Meal Program Coordinators to our team! While Aliya Gilmore and J Engels might be new to their present roles as Teen Feed Meal Program Coordinators, they have both been a part of the Teen Feed community for some time. They look forward to seeing you all and meeting new folks they haven’t yet connected with. Learn more about Aliya and J and their weekly Teen Feed schedules below…

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Meet Aliya Gilmore!
Aliya started with Teen Feed in the fall of 2014 as an Intern from University of Washington’s Service Learning Program. During her time at Teen Feed, Aliya has co-facilitated meal and (STOP) street outreach programs, coordinated and mentored volunteers and meal teams, and additional direct service and administrative functions. As of June, Aliya has been providing meal program coverage this summer.  Aliya brings eight years of community building experience and holds a B.A. in Social Welfare from University of Washington.
Aliya uses she/her pronouns and will be the lead for the Teen Feed University District on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday!

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Meet J Engels!

J originally started with Teen Feed in January 2010 as an AmeriCorps Volunteer where they provided meal program coordination a few nights a week and  supported STOP street outreach. After AmeriCorps, J continued as a part time employee providing meal coordination support. J graduated from Seattle University Law School in May 2014 and officially became a lawyer this past June. For the past year, J has been volunteering weekly at Teen Feed Rainier Beach.
J uses they/them pronouns and will be filling in as the lead the
Teen Feed University District on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday!

– If you need assistance on the day of program, please reach us at 206.229.0813.
– For volunteer schedules and inquiries, please reach Ursula Wright at ursula@teenfeed.org or 206.307.2893.
– For inquiries about Teen Feed’s Meal Program, please reach Brandy Grant at brandy@teenfeed.org.


Shop at Whole Foods & Support Homeless Youth!

Whole Foods Promo Slider- no click

Our friends at University District’s Whole Foods Roosevelt want to help provide hungry youth in need with warm, nutritious meals! Every time you use reusable grocery bags at Whole Foods Roosevelt from July 6th to September 27th, Whole Foods Roosevelt will make a donation to support the Teen Feed Meal Program. Every time, every bag, now through September 27th at Whole Foods Roosevelt. It’s as simple as that! Shop healthfully and help youth in need – do good, feel good!

2015 GiveBIG: Results are In!

May 5, 2015, marked GiveBIG, The Seattle Foundation’s annual day of philanthropy! For one day, ALL gifts made on The Seattle Foundation website in support of Teen Feed were being leveraged by a generous stretch pool. And thanks to a special donor, gifts of $250+ were matched dollar-for-dollar, more than doubling support of youth who need it the most!

On Tuesday, May 5th, our community came together and GaveBIG, raising $21,700+ for youth at Teen Feed! All gifts of $250 were also matched dollar-for-dollar, raising a grand total of $35,500+ for youth working hard for their futures. We are touched and inspired by this demonstration of support. This generosity will provide warm meals, support, healthcare access and street outreach youth need to make positive choices, meet their goals, and achieve stability.

Missed GiveBIG? It’s not too late to have your gift of $250 or more matched dollar-for dollar! To inspire your giving, a special donor has agreed to match all gifts of $250 made in the month of May, dollar-for-dollar up to $30,000 (as funds last)! This tremendous generosity will *double your impact* for youth in need!
– Your gift of $250 will become $500
– Your gift of $500 will become $1,000
– Your gift of $1,000 will become $2,000
– Your gift of $2,500 will become $5,000

To learn more about how your giving impacts youth in need, please reach Suzanne Sullivan, Director of Development and Communications, at suzanne@teenfeed.org or 206.949.1092.  To make a gift on-line today, click here.

WHY YOUR GIVING IS IMPORTANT: In 2016, Teen Feed is expected to…

  • provide a safety net of support for over 900 unduplicated youth in need
  • serve 23,000 warm meals to hungry young people
  • help 150 youth enroll in healthcare benefits and services
  • assist 300 youth with support services including a mailing address, employment, education, housing, and more
  • provide for youth in Seattle’s University District, Auburn and Rainier Beach
  • help 40+ youth transition off the streets into secure stable housing

Click here to see Teen Feed in action! To learn more about Teen Feed’s programs or GiveBIG, please reach Suzanne Sullivan at suzanne@teenfeed.org or 206.949.1092.

Count Us In 2016: Navigating the Seattle Homeless Crisis

In January 2016, King County’s Committee to End Homelessness and the United Way of King County sponsored it 6th Annual Count Us In event, a point-in-time count of the homeless and unstably housed.  Bringing together Teen Feed and 30 other King County youth service providers to outreach to and survey youth experiencing homelessness and housing instability, the early stats are in.  The survey found at least increased homeless youth and young adults in King County on the day of the event January 21, 2016. 

This year’s count already demonstrates a 19% spike overall since 2015 in which over 800+ youth were identified as homeless or unstably-housed. The committee attributed this increase to improved survey administration as a result of a greater number of participating sites, and greater numbers as a result of the drastically increasing cost of affordable housing. Click Here to read the Count Us In 2015 report in its entirety.

“Even one homeless young person is too many and having the most reliable count of youth experiencing the crisis of homelessness strengthens our community’s response,” said Mark Putnam, Director of the Committee to End Homelessness in King County.

Statistics obtained through Count Us In provide important information about youth homelessness to help improve the ability of agencies like Teen Feed to most effectively help youth in need achieve stability.

Teen Feed’s 2015 Count Us In activities included a warm Teen Feed meal, extended drop-in hours, an overnight shelter, and even a midnight snack in the University District. Special thanks to Epiphany Parish of Seattle for preparing a delicious dinner,  and Fat Duck for an early morning treat. Special thanks to Starbucks for doing a deep clean of the sites in preparation for Count Us In activities as part of their MLK Day Volunteer service project. Check out images from Teen Feed’s 2015 Count Us activities below…

Count Us In 01 22 15 24  Count Us In 01 22 15 6  Count Us In 01 22 15 1

Count Us In 01 22 15 27  Count Us In 01 22 15 11

Count Us In 01 22 15 9  Count Us In 01 22 15 22

“Count Us In provides invaluable opportunity to survey young people in need in our community” shared Teen Feed’s Board Chair Brad Papineau. He adds, “The information collected from youth through Count Us In enables us to best identify the needs of young people and informs our efforts to provide them with the resources and support they need to achieve stability.”

Thank You to all of our partners, volunteers, supporters, and the United Way for helping make 2016 Count Us In possible! To learn more, please reach us at 206.409.1202 or info@teenfeed.org.

Help Provide a Safety Net for Homeless Youth…

Donate today:

Your generous support allows us to offer basic needs, build strong relationships, and ally with homeless youth as they meet their future off the streets.

  • $5,000 — Provides 500 meals, enough to cover one full week of meal program for homeless and at-risk young people.
  • $2,500 — Provides two STOP youth interns with 3 months of peer outreach and employment experience.
  • $1,500 — Provides six months of one-on-one support coordination for a young person transitioning off the streets.
  • $500  — Provides access to meals and basic need items for 50-80 young people.
  • $250  — Provides one hour of drop-in support services.
  • $120  — Provides one STOP outreach session, including snacks and employment experience for the STOP youth interns.
  • $100  — Provides a young person with a mailing address and a WA State Identification card.

Any donation amount helps!

Giving Options:
  • Give a one-time or recurring donation securely right away by completing this form:
  • Click here to visit our secure online donation page.
  • Mail your donation to:

Teen Feed
4740 B University Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105

Every donor will receive our monthly e-newsletter, The Teen Feed Times to update you on the day-to-day progress at Teen Feed and the youth we serve.

Your donation is greatly appreciated and fully deductible as a charitable contribution. Teen Feed is a tax-exempt 501 (c) (3) organization, tax ID 94-3034862.

Your Impact: Why Giving to Teen Feed Matters

Youth on the streets can’t take a day off from homelessness, so neither do we.
Thanks to you, Teen Feed is there for youth 365 days a year, when no one else is.

Please enjoy Teen Feed’s 2014 Impact Report (or see below) to see the support you have helped make possible for youth in need this year.

Over the past three years, Teen Feed has nearly doubled its services to youth. We are meeting the needs of more youth, and doing so more effectively, than ever before. For youth experiencing homelessness, stability begins with a warm meal in a safe space. Over that meal, our staff and volunteers work to connect youth with one-on-one support coordination, shelter and housing referrals, healthcare access, warm clothing, and the resources they need to survive on the streets. Your giving drives our ability to provide a consistent safety net of meals, support, street outreach, and basic needs items to young people in need every day of the year.

Click Here to make a 100% tax-deductible gift in support of youth, today!

Change needs to start somewhere. For homeless young people, that somewhere is Teen Feed. Thank you for believing in the bright futures of the youth we serve.

Haircuts for Youth in the University District

Meet Teen Feed’s newest volunteer and style aficionado, Sharalee!

Every two weeks, she donates her skills as a barber for University District youth in need.

Sharalee brings her own personal equipment, her exceptional talent, and her very big heart to each and every session.

Having studied Psychology before pursuing a hairdressing career, Sharalee had always intended to give back to her community. “It’s been really great so far,” says Sharalee.  “It’s something these youth need, and it’s something I can give.”

And when she arrives, the sign-up sheet fills up very quickly with youth eager to have their hair professionally styled free of charge.

“Regular haircuts are not only really important for self-esteem,” says Teen Feed Support Coordinator, Ximena. “For many of the youth we serve, haircuts are necessary for successful job interviews and ongoing employment.”

There is definitely a need here in the University District, and we’re so grateful to Sharalee for meeting it.

Sharalee cuts hair professionally at Rudy’s Barbershop on University Way NE in Seattle.

Volunteer Spotlight: Nate Whitson


Nate started at Teen Feed in March 2014.  Calm, laid-back, and very approachable, Nate volunteers as an Advocate every Wednesday night, building strong relationships and trust with the youth we serve. Born and raised in Federal Way and educated at the University of Washington in Seattle, Nate spent a summer in San Francisco as an intern after college.  His favorite hobbies include backpacking and working on a classic car with his dad.  These were important factors that brought him back to Seattle, where he has lived ever since.

Join us as we celebrate Nate in our Volunteer Spotlight!

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

One of my colleagues, who had been a Volunteer Advocate for over a year, suggested that I look into Teen Feed.  She really sold it as a good organization to work for and be a part of.  She told me that if a guest wants to get very personal and you are comfortable getting personal and discussing life, politics, and happenings, you can do that.  And for me that was something that was really interesting.  That’s pretty unique to have that type of opportunity, from a people perspective.  And that’s why Advocates are there —just, from person to person, somebody to confide in a little bit.  That was exciting to me.  So, not only did it fit into my schedule, it sounded like really good fit.

What was your impression of Teen Feed when you started?

I was really nervous.  I thought it would be kind of hectic.  I found myself thinking that I would be really impersonal or something with guests.  I wasn’t expecting them to be as laid-back as many of them are: happy to be there, happy to chat, and happy to have a meal with volunteers and staff.

Obviously, those were misconceptions, because it turned into being a very relaxed environment — kind of free-flowing.  It’s a nice environment to spend time in. I didn’t foresee that.

Early on I attended The Ropes training, which was run by Teen Feed staff members.  It really opened my eyes to some of the day to day struggles that guests go through. When you are meeting them on a week to week basis it’s hard to put those experiences into an idea of what an entire day looks like. You’ll get an off-hand event here and there, but at The Ropes they give you an idea of what a day could be like, you know, from the perspective of the guests who we work with.

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

Breakfast is always exactly the same for me, which is weird — waffles with peanut butter and honey.  For lunch today I had Pad Thai with tofu, from a food truck in South Lake Union. It was my first time trying it.  I walked through the cross street close to my work, looked to my right, and was like, “I might as well try that today.”  I’d go back.  It’s close. Two blocks away from my work.

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

Living in Capitol Hill, I have a lot of exposure to a community of folks that have unstable housing or who might identify as homeless altogether.  Prior to volunteering at Teen Feed, I hadn’t talked with anyone in those communities who struggle with some of the issues that they struggle with. As a volunteer, your perspective changes.  I’m less judgmental than I might have been in college and in the first couple years out of college.  I’m much more likely to stop and talk to somebody.  A lot of people in that community appreciate being acknowledged and being talked to on a person-to-person level.  A lot of the time they don’t get that — the respect, I guess.

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

I personally like the bean and rice burritos that come with salsa and chips.  That’s kind of up my alley.  I think that’s the University Congregational United Church of Christ Meal Team.  I think they’re probably the meal team tonight, actually.  When you volunteer on the same night every week, you get into a consistent group with four or five meal teams.

What advice would you give to new volunteers?

I’d suggest you shadow a veteran Advocate when you first start.  Sit back and get that Advocate’s opinion on how they open conversations. A lot of Advocates look at it differently from one person to the other.  So really finding your comfort level and the way that you want to engage with youth or guests is important.  It definitely takes a couple weeks for that to happen.  I would also say, don’t get discouraged, if you get blown off or somebody you’re talking to is having a bad day.  That is something that is very normal for somebody that’s in such a stressful situation.  They might just want to keep to themselves over the meal.  I realize that as an Advocate, I could probably find myself in those same shoes once a week— just being upset with something and not wanting to talk to people.  But yeah, shadowing an Advocate and having the perspective that it’s nothing personal. It’s just the way things go sometimes.

Is there anything else about your experience that you would like to share?

I would say.  I’m very thankful that I got involved.  And I think the trainings that were offered and what the staff did to help onboard me as an Advocate was really top-notch.  They’re just a super friendly bunch and very easy to work with. What’s interesting is that the people that you meet that are also working as Advocates or working as case manager staff, they’re just great people to meet, network with, and be around on a weekly basis.  That creates the good environment that Teen Feed strives for.

United We Serve: MLK Day Volunteers at Work!

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'”
– Martin Luther King Jr.

Monday, January 19, 2015 marked Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a national holiday created to honor the incredible life and legacy of civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr. In the spirit of giving back, four generous volunteer groups chose to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day by cleaning up three industrial-sized kitchens that Teen Feed uses to serve homeless and unstably-housed youth and young adults, including Thursday’s Count Us In site!

Starbucks WS   Dawg Daze WS
The incredible Starbucks Hard at work! (above)   University of Washington’s Dawg Days team! (above)
Carlson Learning Center WS    HRC WS
UW’s Carlson Leadership and Public
                      Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Seattle team!
Service Center team!

Teen Feed provides meals and support to young people 365 days a year. Periodic deep cleaning of the sites we operate from is a necessary task that improves the experience of our meal team volunteers, helps our in-kind site partners keep their space in top shape, and – most importantly – creates a welcoming experience for the young people whom we serve.

Thanks to the hard work of each one of these amazing groups, we’re better able to provide meals and support to homeless and unstably-housed youth in our community! We’re so grateful for their time and energy and for the sparkling, clean kitchens they left behind!

Click here or reach us at volunteer@teenfeed.org to learn more about volunteering at Teen Feed.