(608) 442-8815



Would you like to help out? Check out how easy it is to serve at The River. Find out more.

"As a business leader on Madison's north side, I believe it is critical for us to partner with organizations like The River Food Pantry. They bring a valuable service to the community and support families that need emergency assistance."

Bill Haight
President, Magna Publications

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

See the Pantry Publications.Arrow

A New Chapter In The Life of The River

Before the River Food Pantry opened its doors in 2006, founders Andy and Jenny Czerkas, along with their church, started an outreach to two of the low income neighborhoods along Northport Drive and partnered with the neighborhood to organize monthly dinners. As the couple grew relationships with residents, it became apparent that more help was needed in the community. They helped create two small emergency food pantries in the neighborhood, but the need for help on a bigger scale on Madison’s north side and Dane County was evident.

The couple took the initiative and rented an 8,000 sq ft warehouse on Darwin Road. They received donations of building materials, shelving, kitchen appliances, and a startup finances from local businesses, churches and individuals. After a five-month period and 3,500 volunteer hours of construction, The River Food Pantry was open to the public.

Since the beginning, Andy and Jenny’s vision, faith, hard work, dedication and enthusiasm have driven The River to the tremendous success we have had towards ending hunger and building a stronger community for all. It is hard to express sufficient gratitude for all that they have done.

As we turn the page on 2017, we also start a new chapter in the life of The River Food Pantry. After twelve years of tremendous work on behalf of the community served through our mission, our founders Andy and Jenny Czerkas are transitioning to a new chapter in their lives.

Over a year ago we started a journey of discovery to find an Executive Director to lead The River to its next stage of development. The search culminated in the hiring of Charles McLimans as our new leader in April of 2017. The leadership of The River is in very capable hands. Most of you have met Charles McLimans by now and know that he brings vast experience, faith and passion to lead The River in to the future.

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Feed The Need 2018

Feed The Need 2018


When: Sunday, April 22, 2018 | 3:00-6:00 p.m.

 Where: Noah's Event Venue

5020 American Family Dr, Madison, WI 53718


Join The River Food Pantry at the 3rd annual fundraising event Feed the Need, a culinary experience exclusively featuring Madison Originals restaurants, wineries, and distilleries, along with Ale Asylum Brewery. Attendees will enjoy tasty samples from numerous vendors, along with live music, raffles, and more.


Raise a glass.

Raise spirits.

Raise awareness.


Participating vendors coming soon!

Click here to see photos from last year's event!

Interested in sponsoring Feed The Need? Click here to learn more about sponsorship opportunities or contact The River at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



With generous support from our partners:

AleAsylum     originals     inkworks     CLIMB logo final sm stacked

And generous contributions from our sponsors:

Fine Dining


Platinum Plate


 Golden Goblet

summitcredit      boardmanclark      QTI FullColor


Meet Jemal

Because of wonderful supporters like you, The River Food Pantry helps thousands of individuals and families in need here in Madison and Dane County.

            We’d like to tell you about one of them: Jemal Massie.Jemal

            Jemal couldn’t continue working in his construction business due to chronic pain in his ankles, and his wife’s take-home pay was dramatically decreased as she had to pay more for benefits. Times were tough, and money was tight. A police officer friend told Jemal about us, but …

            It took months for Jemal to summon the courage to come in.

            “I had to feel good about myself coming in before I could take the first step.”

            When he finally came in, he was met with welcoming smiles, and over the months, he returned to shelves stocked with bread and cereal, apples and tomatoes, generosity and love.

            We asked him if he’d like to volunteer, and he jumped at the chance. He came often.

            We were so impressed with his personality, character, and work ethic, we asked him if he’d like to work here part time, and he jumped at the chance again.

            The River helps your neighbors, co-workers, church members, moms and dads, kids and teens, veterans and seniors – we help everybody, and they’re all treated with courtesy, respect, dignity, and sensitivity because we’ve got the Jemal Massies of the world here, eager to help.

            As winter comes to Madison and Christmas and the New Year approach, the demand for our services increases. Good people need extra help with groceries or a past-due utility bill that must be paid to keep the lights and furnace on. There may be a prescription that they aren’t refilling because their kids need shoes, but they need to have those pills.

           When a group of committed volunteers first opened the doors of The River in 2006, they did it out of an expression of love and mercy for those in need in the Madison area. Since then, we’ve grown so much and have become the busiest food pantry in Dane County, with over 2,700 families served every month.


$50 keeps the truck running to pick up 19 TONS of groceries weekly.

$100 fills the grocery cart full of food for five families a week.

$250 provides rent and utilities for The River for one day.

$500 makes a community meal for 250 people.$1,000 purchases healthy, nutritious food for our mobile lunch program for 2 weekends.

$1,500 supplies our families a dozen eggs and a gallon of milk or one week.

With each dollar of support raised, 97 cents goes toward services and programs.


Through your kindness, you have helped Jemal and thousands more, and for that you richly deserve our enthusiastic thanks.

Every day at The River, we see people enter our doors for the first time tentatively, self-consciously, even fearfully, and they leave with a grocery cart filled to the brim, a smile, and the weight of the world lifted off their shoulders.

Well Expo 2018

Working on New Year's Resolutions? Attend the 9th Annual Well Expo on January 19-20 to get inspired, and support The River! The Well Expo is your one-stop shop for wellness and healthy living. Attend the Well Expo at Monona Terrace and experience two days of classes, presentations and demonstrations in the areas of health and wellness.


Tickets are $5 or free by bringing two non-perishable food items. Last year, The River received over 1,000 pounds of food!

Follow this link for more information about the Well Expo:

Volunteer to work The River's booth! Collect donated food and have fun talking about The River to attendees. Click here to sign up.

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Record Breaking #GivingTuesday!


#GivingTuesday kicks off the holiday giving season and inspires people to collaborate in improving their local communities and to give back in impactful ways to the charities and causes they support.

We are so grateful for the generosity of our supporters for not only helping us reach our $20,000 #GivingTuesday goal, but for exceeding it!

It was an exciting day at The River, donations were coming in during the wee hours of the morning all the way to 11:30 last night. We received over $32,000 yesterday plus a $20,000 match, for a grand total of $52,550 from our generous donors!

Thank you so much to everyone who participated in this global day of giving. Your donations will help keep our lights on and shelves filled with food for the 700+ households that visit us every week for groceries, clothing, mobile lunches, and hot meals. We are truly touched by the compassion of this community.


Because of you support, people in the community, like Ben, find a sense of hope while visiting the pantry. 
While riding his motorcycle, Ben was involved in a hit and run accident. "I had to go on disability after losing my leg," Ben explains while pointing at his prosthetic leg. "I make a third of what I used to now, but the bills just keep coming."
Two years later, Ben is still having procedures from the accident. "I can't express how much The River means to me," Ben said while sitting down waiting to shop. "I get my vitamins, delicious loaves of bread and a variety of vegetables from this place. Life isn't always fair but it's good to know there are places you can turn to when something goes wrong."

Current Needs

"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.