(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 take a minute to say thank you. The River was a source of comfort for me a few years back when I lost a job. Before that, like many people seem to, I thought a food pantry was only for "bums". I was ashamed to go. But once there, I saw the people there were just like me - people who had simply fallen on bad luck, were having trouble making ends meet. It was a very respectful place, free from judgment. Thank you."


Former Client

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

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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.

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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.