(608) 442-8815



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

"The River makes a huge difference for us. When we come here I get canned goods and healthy food for the kids that they actually like such as granola bars, yogurt or cereal. We can’t afford to buy those items, and I know it seems like a small thing, but it’s a big deal for them. We’ve been coming here for a year and the money we save really helps our budget options.”


Client & Mom of 2

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

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Charles McLimans - Executive Director


I feel truly humbled and blessed to have been chosen to lead The River. For me this is much more than a job, it is a vital ministry that builds and strengthens community by providing hope, dignity, and abundance to those who are marginalized by society. I feel called and sent to this mission. Expressing it in my Christian tradition, this is how we build the kingdom.

I am a non-profit leader whose mission throughout much of my career has been to help those who have less. After attending graduate school in Madison, I worked for a family foundation in New York City, where I served as Executive Director and worked closely with the founders. I moved to Naperville and began volunteering at Loaves & Fishes, a food pantry similar to The River. There I took on increasing responsibilities and became Executive Director in 2008. During my time at Loaves & Fishes, revenue grew 605%, we met over a 250% increase in demand due to the Recession, and the staff expanded from 4 to 20, and the volunteer base from 200 to 1,500.

Wanting to move back to Wisconsin and be closer to my mother, I returned to Milwaukee and took on the CEO role with Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin, a two-year contract which recently ended. There I worked at a strategic level to support food pantries around the region. I missed the contact with the people being served, and am very excited to bring my skill set and passion to this leadership opportunity with The River.

There is a very special spirit and culture at The River that I noticed right away. I would describe it as joyful, loving, and abundant. When we give to others it brings joy to everyone involved. We are a philanthropic organization and a charitable organization. Philanthropy in Greek means 'love of humanity,' and Charity comes from the Latin caritas meaning 'loving-kindness.' These virtues and values are very evident at The River.

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.