(608) 442-8815



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

"I just wanted to thank you for the opportunity to volunteer. It was my first experience volunteering at the River Food Pantry and it definitely will not be my last. You were so welcoming and friendly. You truly run a top notch organization. The system is well planned out, the selection of available items was amazing and you have a great staff of volunteers. I had a lot of fun and I think the work you do for the community is wonderful."


First Time Volunteer

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

See the Pantry Publications.Arrow

Mobile Lunch Program Feeds Children

Children in the Woodland Park Apartments run, hop, skip and giggle when they see The River Food Pantry’s large white van pull into the neighborhood parking lot. Children eagerly line up while volunteers and The River staff unload their vehicle and arrange coolers and a table on the grass located in the center of the neighborhood. You can hear “Yes please” and “No thank you” while children choose what food they would like to eat for lunch. During this time, any child or teen can come up to the table to choose items of a nutritional lunch and then sit down with their neighbors to enjoy a meal together. After eating, the children help load everything into the vehicle and then wave goodbye while the white van heads back to The River Food Pantry.

In June 2016, The River launched a mobile lunch program called Madison Unites to Nourish Chidlren at Home (MUNCH). The program distributes nutritional lunches when the Madison Metropolitan School District’s (MMSD) free meals aren’t available. MUNCH is currently at five north side neighborhoods. More low-income neighborhoods will be added as funding allows.

“Having been raised in a low-income family with many difficulties, including issues with hunger, I can attest that sometimes food benefits and the average paycheck may not always be enough to provide for a growing family,” Dani Barker, The River Food Pantry’s Meal Service Coordinator, said. “Available resources such as MUNCH and The River Food Pantry can make the difference between being hungry and feeling content. ‘It takes a village to raise a child’.”

 With the help of volunteers, lunches are prepared at The River Food Pantry’s kitchen every Saturday morning and then distributed at the neighborhoods every Saturday and Sunday afternoon and all non-school days. The River is committed to offering healthy food choices that will help prepare children for social and educational growth. Collaboration with neighborhood staff and residents is absolutely critical in this program. The goal is to have residents become volunteer ambassadors for their neighborhood and be involved in distribution and production of lunches.

                     IMG 1697     IMG 1788

Click here to get involved with MUNCH.

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School Supplies Needed


It's summer time which means we are starting to collect school supplies! There are numerous reasons why families cannot acquire the required school supplies, we want to help and get children excited for their first day back at school by providing the needed materials to help them learn.

Would you please consider donating school supplies, helping get the school year off to a great start for a precious child? 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..

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Pickin' for the Pantry
Help us fill our coolers full of fresh food this summer. Please consider donating your gardening surplus to The River where it will immediately find a good home. You might even consider planting a few extra items just for donating or bring a group to a farm for harvesting. With The River distributing over 40,000 pounds of food a week, we can never have too much fresh food.
Donations can be dropped off at The River Monday & Wednesday from 9am-5:30pm. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9am-6pm.


Thank you for the donations!

Scott Ness holds a stand off the road of W12303 Cty Rd V in Lodi selling fresh corn picked from his farm.   


Instead of wasting perfectly good corn, Scott donated almost 900 pounds to The River Food Pantry!

Corn2 Corn3

Numerous individuals and families in the community will be going home with bags of fresh corn on the cob to enjoy. Before leaving, Scott made plans to bring another truck load of corn in a couple of days.



Six members of the Senior Adult Ministry at Messiah Lutheran Church in Madison recently spent a beautiful sunny day outdoors harvesting 65 pounds of fresh strawberries from the Lutz Family Farm for The River Food Pantry! They had such a fun time that they said plans are already underway to make this a Messiah intergenerational event for next June.

From left to right, Tim Ryan, Tom Green, and Jim Stolzenburg stop to pose for a photo while picking strawberries at the Lutz Family Farm.
From left to right, Stolzenburg, Bob Hartwig, Ryan, Green, Keith Schlesinger, and Marlene Green show-off the vast amount of strawberries they picked for The River. Matthew Lutz gives a thumbs up in the background for the excellent harvest.
Arin, a volunteer at the pantry, prepare the abundance amount of fresh donated strawberries for hundreds of families to take home during our public shopping session.
Thank you so much Senior Adult Ministry for thinking of The River and helping feed struggling families in the community. The River Food Pantry has always focused on providing as much fresh food as possible for the families who come to us for help. With fresh fruits and vegetables often being passed by on shopping trips because of their expense, your donation means a lot here at The River.
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7th Annual Harvest Dinner



Plans have begun for the 2016 Harvest Dinner for Hunger taking place on Sunday, October 9 at The East Side Club. Purchase your ticket online now or stop by the pantry to pay with check or cash. It is $65/person or $520/table of eight. 250 tickets are available and we expect the event to sell out again this year. Don't wait. Get your ticket(s) today!

3:30 p.m. Tailgate! Doors open. Enjoy cash bar, silent auction, pick a prize raffle, restaurant gift certificate raffle, games and live music by Beth Kille.


5:00 p.m. Game time! Dinner from Market Street Catering, program, live auction, and inspirational stories told by those touched by The River. The program will be emceed by NBC Channel 15's evening news anchor John Stofflet.

 We scheduled this year's Harvest Dinner earlier so it will end before the Packer game Sunday night.

Interested in helping with The River's largest fundraiser of the year?  

Join our growing list of corporate sponsors for the Harvest Dinner for Hunger. Discuss sponsorship options and contact Development Director Amy Lord,This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

We are also looking for donations to our live and silent auction, pick a prize raffle and restaurant gift certificate raffle. Would you or your business be interested in donating services, discounts, gift cards, an unforgetable experience, or a raffle item? Contact Communications Coordinator Hannah Becker, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., to get more information. 

With generous support from our partners:

creative     inkworks     AleAsylum     market


And generous contributions from our sponsors:


nationalguardian     findorff






    Barlow Logo         Camp K9 logo         UW Credit Union Logo       

      coylecarpet     ExpressEmployServices    MGEFoundationLogoGreen   northanimalhospital


Friends of The River

Summit Credit Union       Dentistry for Madison

Park Bank                      Baker Tilly

Woodman's Market           Oak Park Place

Associated Bank              WisPACT


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The River Food Pantry Accepts American Family Insurance Dreams Foundation Grant for MUNCH

June 8, 2016 – Madison, WI. The River Food Pantry is a 2016 recipient of a grant awarded by American Family Insurance Dreams Foundation.  The award of $15,000 will be used toward The River's new mobile lunch program called Madison Unites to Nourish Children at Home (MUNCH). MUNCH will address a basic need for both social and educational growth through a mobile, neighborhood program that brings lunch to children and teens every weekend and non-school day. Proper, consistent nutrition for children is vital to their success in school. It is known that the gap in education achievement of children in poverty is large, and the gap is present even before they start school.

“The American Family Insurance Dreams Foundation is excited to be supporting The River Food Pantry’s new MUNCH program to bring nutritious food to neighborhood children and teens in need when not in school," Jeff Voelkel, Community Invest Specialist at American Family Insurance, said. "We are happy to be a part of this new and exciting program which we feel addresses a need in the communities The River Food Pantry serves.”

American Family Regional Campaign Ambassadors presents a $15,000 check to The River Food Pantry staff.

Amfam grant

 The River is looking for volunteers on Saturdays and Sundays for MUNCH. Click here to learn more and sign up to volunteer.

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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.