(608) 442-8815



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

“I have always been the type of person that hates to ask for help. With the struggles I have had trying to find a job, I had to lower my pride and walk into the door at The River. The volunteers and helpers were so kind to me and explained what I needed to do. I ended up with more groceries than I ever imagined I would receive. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for putting food back on my table!”


New Client


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

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Join Us for Fun on Ice

We’re just five days away from FUN ON ICE!

Fun on Ice

THIS SATURDAY Jan. 31 from 1-2:30pm, please join us at The East Side Club, 3735 Monona Drive, to raise awareness about food insecurity in Dane County. Suggested donation, $10.

Fun on Ice is the brain child of Mary Zinn, a dedicated volunteer, hockey mom and caring neighbor. Mary contacted The River this past fall because she wanted to get involved and host an event to shed light on domestic hunger. The community has truly come together to make Fun on Ice a reality and we’d like to thank the following people, organizations and businesses for their support:

  • The East Side Club and General Manager Jen O'Branovich for graciously opening up the lower level of The East Side Club for Fun on Ice.
  • Madison Capitols for sending mascot D.C. Eagle to Fun on Ice and for donating raffle items.
  • UW Marching band members for sharing their musical talents.
  • Oscar Mayer for sending the Wienermobile and two of their hotdoggers.
  • Hartmeyer Ice Arena and Sheryl Rowe for loaning skates and Hockey Giant for sharpening them.
  • Top Tailoring for donating gift cards for the raffle.
  • Chef Gregory Walters from Cento for volunteering to prepare a community meal at The River with one lucky raffle winner.
  • Local toy manufacturer Meeper for donating a brand new MeeperBOT for the raffle.
  • Brocach on Monroe for providing hot chili.

We hope to see you this Saturday at 1pm – don’t be late, UW Marching band members will perform at 1:30pm.

Want to host your own event to benefit The River? Email our Development Director Pat Gallagher, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Volunteer Profile: Sharon Mohr

Sharon Mohr


Sharon Mohr is the friendly, smiling woman who greets you in the free clothing area at The River Food Pantry. When Sharon first volunteered at The River in the fall of 2013, she was retired from the state and had done some volunteer work on political campaigns. Sharon was introduced to The River Food Pantry at a Weight Watchers meeting. “They gave us a challenge; ‘for every pound you lose, give a can of food to a pantry’ and after a little discussion, we decided on The River for our donations.” About a week later, Sharon saw an article in the newspaper about The River and was convinced to donate her time as well.

What keeps Sharon coming back to The River is the fact that she grew up poor, but didn’t realize it at the time, because “everyone was poor back then.” She also keeps coming back for the people. Sharon tells the story of a young couple, visiting The River for the first time. The two had been married for a couple of years, both had good jobs, and they decided to start a family. At the same time, the young woman’s mother got sick. Then, on the day she found out she was pregnant, her husband lost his job. Between caring for her mother, and dealing with her own morning sickness, the expectant mom missed some work and lost her job too. When she walked into the free clothing area at The River, it was to find an outfit to wear to job interviews scheduled for the following week. As she picked out an outfit, her husband got a message that he too had a promising job interview to prepare for. Sharon never saw the couple again, and can only assume that the interviews were successful and that they have been able to get themselves back on solid ground financially.

Sharon describes the free clothing area when she first started volunteering at The River; “if you wanted to find women’s pants…well, look around and see what you can find.” Being an extremely organized person, Sharon took it upon herself to bring order to the clothing area. Now when you walk in, everything is hanging neatly on hangers, with clothing grouped according to size and gender. Sharon has also formed alliances with other Madison area non-profits, so when The River has too much, clothes can be shared with others or returned to their original manufacturer for recycling programs.

There are other advantages to an orderly system in the free clothing area too – with everything in its place, Sharon finds that the shoppers have more respect for the place and help keep it nice and neat. The order also helps in keeping a good inventory as it’s much easier to tell when we’re running low in any one area. Areas where Sharon sees the greatest need for clothing is include large men’s sizes (XXL +) and boys clothing, “anywhere from grade school through early high school, when they’re big enough for men’s clothes.”

Donations of gently used clothing in any size, can be dropped off at The River Food Pantry, 2201 Darwin Road, Monday – Friday, 9am – 6pm.


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Year of Action

There’s been lots of discussion about 2014 going down in history as the year of outrage. Just writing that, “year of outrage,” makes me tired. It’s exhausting to be angry. When you’re angry, you can’t see straight, you can’t think clearly, you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel or the glass half full. Anger blocks our love and peace from entering your heart. In short, anger isn’t productive.

So that’s all I’ll say about the year of outrage. It’s a new year, and at The River we’re looking forward to new beginnings, new relationships, second chances and progress. Which is why I’d like to declare 2015 the Year of Action. If you’re angry, I hope you’ll consider channeling that anger into action in 2015.

At The River, here’s what a year of action looks like:

New Beginnings for the individuals and families who shop at The River. It is our hope that people are uplifted by their time at The River and that the help they receive at The River helps them achieve their goals.

New Relationships kindled between staff and volunteers, volunteers and volunteers, The River and community organizations and The River and local businesses.

Second Chances for anyone who needs one.

Progress in the fight against hunger. We will work towards creating an increased level of awareness regarding domestic hunger, its causes, its impact (especially on children) and what can be done to make a measurable difference in the lives of those struggling with hunger.

What action will you take in 2015? You can further The River’s mission by hosting a food drive or fundraising event, donating your gently used clothing or making a financial gift. Share your Year of Action plans in the comments section below.




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Fun on Ice!

Ice Skating


Fun on Ice!


On Saturday, January 31, over 200 people came together on icy Lake Monona for a little Fun on Ice, in support of The River Food Pantry. 

The River would like to thank volunteer Mary Zinn, who took her own original idea and made it reality, raising nearly $2000 for The River Food Pantry, and providing an afternoon of ice skating and other wintertime fun and games for everyone in attendance.

We would also like to thank The East Side Club for opening up their wonderful facility on a Saturday afternoon for Fun on Ice.  Thanks are also due to Oscar Mayer, Brocach Irish Pub, Top Tailoring, Madison Capitols Hockey Team, and the UW Marching Band, along with everyone who came to the party and made donations to The River Food Pantry!

 Here's a few pictures from the day...


DSC01060     DSC01085    

DSC01067     FoI hockey with DC Eagle    

FoI Skate with DC     fun on ice2    

FoI UW Band     FoI Sign




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New Year's Resolutions



This is the time of year that many of us take a look back on the things that we have accomplished over the past twelve months and set some goals for the next twelve months.

Those goals, or resolutions, might be personal (I’m going to run a marathon this year), professional (time to talk to the boss about that promotion I’ve been wanting) or they might be on a grander scale (I can solve that “world peace” thing).

Well, The River Food Pantry is probably not going to get you across a marathon finish line.

You’re on your own when it comes to talking to your boss about that big promotion.

And world peace is probably a little beyond the scope of The River.


That being said, The River Food Pantry can have a place in your New Year’s Resolutions!


Resolve to Give Time: The River Food Pantry runs on volunteer power! On a typical Friday night, about 50 volunteers help weigh food, distribute fresh fruits & vegetables, meat & dairy, and bread. Volunteers are also needed to help load groceries into vehicles, serve a free community meal, clean-up after the meal, supervise the children’s area and work in the free clothing area.

Resolve to Include Your Kids: People often ask if their children can volunteer. The answer is yes – we love kids helping out at The River Food Pantry. While certain volunteer jobs require that you are at least 16 years old, there are plenty of areas where young kids can lend a helping hand. In particular, it’s not uncommon to see young children handing out fresh produce or bakery items in the pantry, or serving drinks or bussing tables during community meals.

Resolve to Organize a Food Drive: The River Food Pantry serves more than 600 families and distributes more than 35,000 pounds of food every week. While it might seem like a daunting task to ask your friends, neighbors or coworkers to contribute that amount of food – don’t worry about it, nobody expects you to cover it all. In fact, a really successful food drive might bring in 1000 pounds or less. While that might seem like just a drop in the bucket, compared to 35,000 pounds, it gives families much more variety when shopping at The River. Food Drives also get more people personally involved in hunger issues. And that is a good thing. Want to organize a food drive?  The River Food Pantry has put together a simple Food Drive Kit to help you out!

Resolve to Donate Money: The question often come us – what is the greatest need at The River? The answer is pretty simple – MONEY. Because of The River’s access to low-cost food through our community partners, a donation of $10 can buy more than $100 worth of food. That is “The Power of Ten.”  Learn more about how your donations go further at The River!

Resolve to Give Monthly: If you are already a River donor, consider joining the Helping Hands Team, The River Food Pantry’s monthly giving program. Your monthly gift helps to provide The River with an ongoing and stable source of funding and at the same time, reduces administrative costs.  And that means your money does what you want it to do – feed people in need in Dane County.  It's easy to sign-up, and your monthly donation goes a long way towards making sure that nobody in Dane County goes to bed hungry!

Resolve to Stay Local: When you give your time or money to a local organization, you know that your efforts are helping people in need in your own community! At The River Food Pantry your donation of time or money goes directly to the people who need it most – there is no “middle-man” at The River. Money donated goes to purchase food for families in need in Dane County. Your volunteer hours directly serve those same people – getting much needed food to your neighbors who might not otherwise be able to afford it.


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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.