Super Bowl Blitz

The city is crazy with 12th man fever, and so are we. Everywhere you go in Seattle, you’ll see blue and white 12 flags and Seattleites wearing 12 Fan Jerseys; everyone in Seattle seems to be embracing the Seahawks spirit. But did you know that the 12th man’s origins go much deeper than being the loudest fans in nation? The 12th man was quite literally the spectator that was ready when called, to support his favorite team, at any cost.

One of the earliest usages of the “12th man” came on January 2nd, 1922, when Texas A & M played Centre College, then a national powerhouse in college football. Arriving as underdogs, the Texas A & M squad played everyman on their roster until they were depleted. In need of another player, in case of injury, the coach turned to the fans for support. E. King Gill, an ardent supporter, stepped up to become the “12th Man”. Though Gill ended up not playing in the game, his willingness to step up and support helped Texas A & M win, against the odds.

Just like Gill, the fans of the Seattle Seahawks are infamous for the way their support changes the dynamic of the game. The 12th men of the Seahawks aren’t only spectators; they’re people who shift the momentum of the game. The 12th man is so effective that on November 27th, 2005, the Seahawk’s head coach dedicated the game ball to the 12th man. In this year’s drive to the Super Bowl, the vocal support that the 12th man makes has been associated with the Seahawk’s success. The 12th man is so distracting for the other team that one opponent stated that in the Clink “You can barely hear yourself think.”

Founded by Beverly Graham, OSL heeded the call to become the 12th Man for Seattle’s hungry in 1989. Our first meals were served at Occidental Park, in Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood. Since then, our area of operations has expanded to include meal service throughout much of Seattle and parts of the greater Puget Sound region. Through our Food in Motion Program, we provide nutritional support to thousands of people, from Lake City to Renton and West Seattle to the Eastside. From our original epicenter in the Pioneer Square neighborhoods, OSL works to shake up hunger and shift the needle towards food security and stability for every Seattlelite, every day.

Throughout history, the 12th man has truly played a pivotal role shaping the outcome of games and standing for their fellow man. That’s why this week; OSL is calling you to join our team against hunger.  Just as the 12th man stands behind the Seahawks, we need you to stand behind the OSL team, which goes head to head with poverty every day.   Until Midnight on Monday February 3rd, OSL is looking to the 12thMan to Blitz hunger and provide thousands of more meals to more of our hungry neighbors. Our goal of $12,000 will ensure that thousands of more meals will reach those who are challenged with hunger in our community.

So how can you be a 12th man Against Hunger?

OSL crafted more than 426,000 meals for the food insecure in the greater Seattle area last year, and has served more than 3.9 million meals since we were founded nearly 25 years ago. The City has been brought to life with Seahawks spirit; lets help save the lives of those living in our community struggling with hunger every day.

Don’t just be a fan, be the 12th Man.

Chef Life with Chef Paul

Chef Paul takes us through how to create a wonderful meal out of donated ingredients.

Support our work


Homeless or Unhoused?

Every day OSL strives to be the advocates for those we serve and to represent them in a respectful, dignified, and caring manner. Although some of the individuals and families we serve have a roof over their head, many of our guests call the streets of Seattle home. The majority lack the resources and or ability to access food or nutritionally dense meals in conventional ways and so use our services to meet their nutritional needs.

There is an enormous difference between being called “homeless”, and living unhoused. If we lived unhoused in Seattle, we still have a home. It is Seattle. The term homeless implies that someone does not have a home and is somehow viewed as “less” than others.

We find this term to be denigrating and so we use the word “unhoused”. We are reminded every day that that those we serve, whether economically challenged guests, volunteers, or the greater community, are “us”, with different life circumstances; our friends, our families, our neighbors, our community members. Us.

OSL adopted the term “unhoused” many years ago, and has been instrumental in facilitating the change in language and perception.


The general understanding of the “homeless” by the greater public is often based upon legal definitions of homelessness, set down by specific governing bodies. The term “homeless” is not static. It was first recognized by the UN in the 1940s, as an effort to categorize peoples lacking regular living quarters.

The term “homeless” has come to encompass a broad range of people who fall within those parameters. Yet, “homeless” does not adequately define the experiences or outlook of those who fall within in these broad terms.

The social and personal implications are attached to the term “homeless” often inaccurately represent those who live “unhoused”. Often, our guests belong to a community. Sometimes that might be an encampment of the unhoused, such as Nicklesville. Other times, it is less formal, such as Seattle’s Outdoor Meal Site.

Social and Personal Impact

The label of “homeless” has unfortunate connotations. It implies that one is a failure, is “less than”, and it undermines self-esteem and progressive forward motion.

The use of the term unhoused, instead of “homeless”, has a profound personal impact upon those in insecure housing situations.

From Palo Alto, the story of Norm Carroll, a recent city council candidate, shows us how the power of terminology changed his outlook upon life. Carroll thought of himself as homeless, as a wanderer without a home until 1998, when a young stranger forever changed Carroll’s self identification of his situation and status. This young boy asked Carroll if he had a house. Not a home, but a house.

“That little boy didn’t think of me as someone to step over, ignore or push out of town….To him I was just somebody without a house. That’s when I realized I was unhoused, not homeless.”

Since that moment, Norm Carroll has secured affordable housing and employment, and in 2005, Carroll ran for Palo Alto City Council. Though Carroll was unsuccessful in his campaign for public office, his life and countless others were forever changed.

In the bigger picture, when society uses disparaging words such as homeless, we conjure up in our minds; people who may be derelict, unclean, addicts, alcoholics, criminals…All of these assumptions are false, misleading, and unjust. In today’s unstable economic climate, anyone can find themselves living without shelter. It is an epidemic that continues to run rampant. With an unlivable minimum wage and housing that is sky high; many find themselves “one paycheck” away from an unstable living condition.

Home is where the heart is; Seattle is Home

According to, home is “the place or region where something is native or most common.”

For most of our guests, that “common place” is Seattle and the Puget Sound Region. The one night count conducted by Seattle King County Coalition on Homelessness (SKCCH) and Operation Night Watch, with more than 900 volunteers, counted 2736 men, women, and children without shelter during the three hour street count.

According to SKCCH this number is an increase of 5% over those found without shelter last year and does not include all those who take great care not to be visible, as well as many people with children, living in cars, or couch surfing.

Organizations that work directly on the front line, including OSL, estimate that on any given night in Seattle, more than 12,000 individuals sleep without shelter or with temporary shelter. That equates to 13,140,000 meals that are needed each year to help those in Seattle that are challenged with hunger. In 2013 alone, OSL served 426,055 meals to 8791 unduplicated individuals.

Although there are many in our community who remain unhoused, they still call the greater Seattle area “home”.

A day in the OSL Kitchen

Join us for a day in the OSL kitchen, featuring Community Connections volunteer partner, Ashton Bellevue.