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"The River makes a huge difference for us. When we come here I get canned goods and healthy food for the kids that they actually like such as granola bars, yogurt or cereal. We can’t afford to buy those items, and I know it seems like a small thing, but it’s a big deal for them. We’ve been coming here for a year and the money we save really helps our budget options.”


Client & Mom of 2

The River is Dane County's busiest food pantry and in 2015 welcomed 30,605 family visits.

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Andy Czerkas named Purpose Prize fellow

The Purpose Prize honors Americans 60 and older for changing lives in new and creative ways

Madison, Wis. – Wednesday, December 5, 2012: today announced that Andy Czerkas, from Madison, is a 2012 Purpose Prize fellow. The Purpose Prize is the nation’s only large-scale investment in social entrepreneurs and other creative problem solvers in the second half of life.

Czerkas was named a fellow because of his work to alleviate hunger and social isolation among low-income residents of Dane County by providing free food and services in a welcoming atmosphere at The River Food Pantry.

“Purpose Prize fellows are using their passion and experience to help solve some of society’s steepest challenges,” said Marc Freedman, founder and CEO of and author of The Big Shift. “They represent a growing wave of people in their 60s and beyond who are using their knowhow to change the world, while shifting perceptions of what is possible in this stage of life.”

The Purpose Prize program is funded by the John Templeton Foundation and The Atlantic Philanthropies. The Prize is awarded by, a nonprofit that promotes encore careers – work that is both personally meaningful and serves the greater good.

“It's an honor to be picked as one of 35 people in the nation,” said Czerkas. “The success of the pantry is due to lots of folks, not the least of which is my wife Jenny. The honor really belongs to the pantry and all the volunteers that make it work.”

“I’m really glad that we’re there to help people, said Czerkas. “It’s a time of great need.”

A panel of 23 judges – leaders in business, politics, journalism and the nonprofit sector – chose the winners from a pool of more than 800 nominees. This year’s 35 fellows are finalists for The Prize. An awards ceremony will be held in February in San Francisco.

For more information about The Purpose Prize, visit: For more information about The River Food Pantry, visit:

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"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me."
- Matthew 25:35-36

The River Food Pantry
2201 Darwin Rd. | Madison, WI 53704
Phone: (608) 442-8815

In accordance with Federal Law and U.S. Department of Agriculture Policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave, SW , Washington D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 or (202) 720-6382 (TTY). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

In addition the State of Wisconsin prohibits discrimination in the delivery of services on all the above bases, as well as sexual orientation and religion. 

The River Food Pantry complies with all Federal, State and local laws regarding nondiscrimination and is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all persons.