(608) 442-8815



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

“For me, food security is the foundation for everything.  If you have that - by using the pantry if needed - you can think about getting a better job, helping your kids with homework, working on your relationships, etc.  Without food security, everything is a much bigger struggle.”


Donor & Volunteer

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

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Gift of Gobble 2017

It’s that time of year again.

Imagine the stress many families go through during the holiday season.   finishedturkey

For some, $30 for a Thanksgiving dinner cannot be added into their budget. You can help these struggling families by giving the “Gift of Gobble”.

In 2016, The River distributed over 800 turkeys and/or hams during Thanksgiving week and served 1,000 meals at The River’s annual Thanksgiving Feast! In order to provide enough turkeys this year, The River needs your help.

We have currently raised enough money for 650 turkeys!



Here's How You Can Help:

-Donate $30 for every turkey you would like to see given to a family in our community who shops at The River. Donate online or drop off a check/cash at the pantry. Specify "Turkey" in the designation/comment box when donating online or on the check memo. 

-Donate a turkey (or two or three or more) by Friday, November 10 to be served the following Friday at The River’s annual Thanksgiving Feast or distributed to families for their own Thanksgiving celebrations.

Are you a business owner? Challenge your employees to donate and double the donation by doing a match!

Donations can be dropped off at The River Food Pantry, 2201 Darwin Road, Madison, WI 53704.

If you have any questions, contact Development Director Amy Lord, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Trick or trEAT Halloween Bash!


Help us scare up some funds for The River Food Pantry!  Join Madison Magnet and Rotary After Hours for a spooky night of food, beer, and live music! Hue - a super fun cover band - will be jamming out with us all night as we show our support for the fight against hunger.

Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Food is included and your first beer is free! Please bring cash for any additional beverages - all beer is generously provided by Ale Asylum.  Register here on EventBrite.

This Halloween event is sure to be a spooky celebration of The River Food Pantry and all the good work they do in the community, so get your tickets today! Costumes are encouraged and remember, all proceeds go directly to The River Food Pantry.

Hope to see you there!

Volunteer Opportunity:  You also have the opportunity to volunteer to pass out food at the Food Pantry during their open pantry. This will be from 4:30 to 6:30 pm and is only open to the first 15 people.  Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if interested!

The River Food Pantry Receives $50,000 Grant from Great Lakes


Madison, WI- On Thursday, August 24 The River Food Pantry was the proud recipient of a $50,000 Brighter Futures Grant awarded by Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates.

In honor of celebrating its 50thanniversary, Great Lakes awarded grants to nonprofit organizations making a difference in the communities where its nine offices are located. Employees of the Madison office awarded two Brighter Futures Grants, providing The River Food Pantry along with Operation Fresh Start with $50,000 each.

The money awarded to The River Food Pantry will be used for their mobile lunch program, Madison Unites to Nourish Children at Home (MUNCH). The River began MUNCH in June 2016 to address a basic need for both social and educational growth through a mobile, neighborhood program that brings lunch to children and teens. With the $50,000 Brighter Futures Grant, The River has purchased a new and larger cargo van to expand MUNCH to feed more kids in more low income neighborhoods.


MUNCH began by distributing about 30 lunches per day. Now, the program is in eight Northside neighborhoods providing over 450 lunches a day. There is a strong correlation between lacking nutrition, poverty and a lack of success in school. The MUNCH program is seeking to ease the negative impact of poverty with non-school day meals to help close the achievement gap between low income students and those that are not.

“This grant will expand our mobile lunch program into more Northside neighborhoods to feed more kids on weekends and non-school days,” said Executive Director Charles McLimans. “We can make a difference in the hunger gap and the achievement gap and equip our local kids for a brighter future.”

Brighter Futures Grants are an extension of the philanthropy work done by Great Lakes, which is dedicated to helping more students from low-income households, students of color, and first-generation students get into and through college so they can go on to successful lives and help build strong communities.

“At Great Lakes we believe in ‘changing lives for the better,’ and we chose to celebrate our 50th anniversary by expanding our level of engagement within our local communities,” said Amy Kerwin, Vice President – Community Investments.

“In Madison, we are impressed how The River Food Pantry is combating food insecurity for children and families, and with the work Operation Fresh Start is doing to overcome the achievement gap and racial disparities. We’re excited to help both organizations make an even bigger impact.”

The River is excited to be working with north side Madison residents directly within their neighborhoods, while also providing an opportunity for community members to get involved. For more information on The River or MUNCH, visit


 Photo by Katie Wing, Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates.

About The River Food Pantry

Serving Dane County since 2006, The River Food Pantry is the areas busiest food pantry offering free groceries, meals, and clothing to anyone who comes for help. Located in a warehouse just off Northport Drive and Packers Avenue, The River is surrounded by low-income neighborhoods and subsidized senior housing—exactly where we’re needed the most. The River began a mobile lunch program for children and teens in the low income neighborhoods surrounding the food pantry in June 2016. Nutritious packed lunches are distributed in the neighborhoods on weekends and other non-school days. For additional information, visit

About Great Lakes

Since 1967 Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates has been committed to helping students nationwide realize the dream of a college education through our work as a student loan servicer, guarantor and education philanthropy. We have 2,000 employees at nine offices across the country: Aberdeen, South Dakota; Boscobel, Eau Claire, Madison and Stevens Point, Wisconsin; Eagan, Minnesota; Indianapolis, Indiana; Plano, Texas; and Rocky Hill, Connecticut. Our group’s earnings support one of the largest and most respected education philanthropy programs in the country. Since 2006, we have committed nearly $225 million in grant funding to promote higher education access and completion for students of color, low-income students, and first-generation students. For additional information, visit

School Supplies Needed 2017


Summer is coming to a close and the start of school is right around the corner. The River Food Pantry is again hosting a school supply drive for neighborhood familes. We want to make sure ALL children are excited for their first day back at school by providing the needed materials to help them learn.

Please help and donate school supplies!

All donations can be dropped off at The River during regular donation hours Monday and Wednesday 9:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. and Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 9:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. through the end of August. 

Here's a list of the items that the children need:

All Grades

Pocket Folders 7–10

Spiral Notebook, single subject 7-10

Packs of loose leaf paper 2-3

3-ring binders 1” & 2” 1-2

3-ring binders ½” 1-2

Simple Calculator or TX30XIIS

#2 pencils 36


Blue or Black Pens – no gel pens!

Red pens

Highlighters 2

Pencil case

Glue Sticks

White school glue

Colored Pencils

Colored Markers


Ruler 12” w/ metrics

Index cards 5x7 100

Graph Paper

Tissues 2 large boxes

Backpack – sturdy

Black / Blue / Red Sharpie

Elementary grades only

All items listed above plus:


Elmer’s white washable glue

Smock (not plastic) or old shirt for painting

Scotch tape

Qt., gallon or snack size slide loc storage bags

Plastic rest mat for kindergarteners

Dry erase markers

Letter size clipboard

Post-It sticky notes (3x3)

Watercolor paints

Plastic school box 5x8

Optional or only some grades

Artist’s sketch pad

Pocket dictionary & thesaurus

1 pack Vis-à-vis washable overhead markers

Fresh wipes / Clorox clean-ups

Fine tip red sharpie


If you or someone you know is interested in hosting a school supply drive at your place of employment, please email Amy at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Gallery Night At The River

A special event is taking place Wednesday, Sept. 13, at The River Food Pantry and all are invited. Northside artist Dick Walker is having a gallery night showcasing and selling a variety of his monotypes and prints with proceeds benefiting The River.

The gallery night will take place from 5–8 pm at The River, located at 2201 Darwin Road. The event is open to the public and guests will enjoy a showing in a casual atmosphere with light refreshments and appetizers.

Gallery Night 300

Dick Walker started his printmaking in 1991 upon nearing retirement as a UW-Madison professor. Walker took an etching class from Andy Balkin at AGB Graphics, classes at Madison Area Technical College with Karin Ketarkus and another etching class from Larry Welo in Blue Mounds.

The River Food Pantry is excited to partner with Walker to not only showcase his extensive collection but also raise funds to support The River’s mission of serving Dane County residents who are struggling to make ends meet.


Click here to RSVP on our Facebook events page and make sure to share with friends!

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.