Fast forward, and Madden is now a senior and a co-leader of Teen Feed along with Clara F. ’24. Started in 2008, Teen Feed is a club that is built upon the core foundations of community, relationship building, and giving back. Working directly with the Greater Seattle nonprofit Teen Feed, students and Bush community members are responsible for planning, organizing, and cooking meals for teens in need of a meal at the University Congregational United Church of Christ each month. Madden said Teen Feed is not a traditional club that gathers every week; rather, she and Clara connect with Upper School History Teacher Nancy Bowman, who serves as the Teen Feed liaison, and Susanne Eckert, who helped originally start Teen Feed, and discuss meal plans, fundraising, and supplies that the organization needs.
“We will send messages to the students involved about signing up for a meal, which happens once a month,” Madden said. “Students who are unable to come in and cook can many times help in other ways, such as donating juice or cooking desserts for us to serve. There are currently around fifty Bush students involved in Teen Feed, but the Middle School as well as the Board of Trustees usually cook once during the year as well. In the past, we have also been able to get teachers and parents to participate.”
Madden has experienced the full gamut with Teen Feed as she’s watched the vibrant club pivot its way through the pandemic and courageously find ways to continue to serve and make an impact. The 2021-2022 academic year was the first time Bush was able to return in-person to serving teens.
“COVID-19 changed things a lot. For a while it shut down entirely, and then it was doing all of the cooking off campus, assembling, packing food, and dropping it off,” Nancy said. “Last January and February we were able to be back in the kitchen cooking, but with limited numbers and doing it safely.”
For Madden, last winter was the first time since her Ninth Grade year—when the pandemic hit—that she was able to get back in the kitchen and serve food to the teens.
“My highlight [last year] was probably coming in and cooking for the first time in person,” she said. “As much as I loved participating in Teen Feed during COVID-19, there is nothing like cooking in person. Being able to interact and talk with people is something I will always appreciate in any setting, especially with Teen Feed.”
The effects of the pandemic were still very much being felt last year, but Nancy mentioned the support from Bush has always endured and remained steady whether that was assembling, prepping, and coordinating for deliveries and drop-offs or shifting to in-person serving.
“Well, I think the nice thing is the constant [of Teen Feed]. It happens every month, and they rely on us, and we know that,” Nancy said. “It’s something that has a lot of power to it, knowing you’re feeding teens. It’s nice to see that it is a tradition, it gets handed off year-to-year.”
Madden echoed those sentiments saying that being back last year and able to give back hands-on—and start to rebuild those relationships—is what makes Teen Feed such a special experience.
“Teen Feed is a unique club to Bush because of the way you are able to interact with the people you are helping,” she said. “You get to serve them and many times eat the meals with them. You also are able to build relationships with the staff at Teen Feed. I always appreciate meeting new Bush faces each time we make a meal as well.”
-by Mary Albl, Communications Manager