New Coalition Seeks to End Childhood Hunger in Madison | The River Food Pantry
English Spanish

Food for Success coalition brings together Food for Thought Initiative, Selfless Ambition, The River Food Pantry

Leaders of the Food for Success coalition include (left to right) Charles McLimans of The River Food Pantry, Lea Aschkenase of Food for Thought Initiative, and Henry Sanders of Selfless Ambition.

MADISON, Wis. — June 13, 2019 — Three of Madison’s top hunger-relief organizations have joined together as Food for Success, a coalition that will collaborate to end hunger among Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) students, their families, and the community as a whole.

Food for Success includes:

  • Food for Thought Initiative (Food4TI): a volunteer organization that aims to improve food access and alleviate hunger among MMSD students and their families through in-school pantries and weekend food programs.
  • Selfless Ambition: a charitable organization that aims to reduce the racial achievement gap in MMSD schools through tutors and access to food in school.
  • The River Food Pantry: Dane County’s busiest food pantry serving free groceries, meals, clothing and mobile lunches to over 1,000 families per week.

MMSD’s partnership with the Food for Success coalition aims to ensure that all students are ready to engage in learning. The partnership intends to meet this need by supporting food accessibility for students and their families. Food for Success has targeted the schools that have the highest percentage of students who qualify for free and/or reduced lunch, as well as homeless and high-risk students and their families.

“We joined this coalition because it aligned with our belief that students should be hungry to learn, not hungry,” said Lea Aschkenase, Food4TI Founder. “Research unequivocally demonstrates hunger impairs health, learning, behavior and the ability to attend and focus. By working together, we can simultaneously sustain and expand our school-based nutritional support.”

Both Food4TI and Selfless Ambition provide healthy food options to students and their families through in-school food pantries. Food4TI operates pantries in Sandburg Elementary, Mendota Elementary, Cherokee Heights Middle, and East High School. A pantry at Hawthorne Elementary is scheduled to open in September. Selfless Ambition operates pantries in Leopold Elementary, Glendale Elementary and Lake View Elementary.

Food4TI and Selfless Ambition approached The River several months ago to discuss opportunities to serve more students in a more efficient and sustainable way.

“The vision of The River is a fully nourished community, and this partnership allows us to take another step towards that vision,” said Charles McLimans, The River President/CEO. “The Food for Success coalition will empower our community to focus on child hunger through a wider lens. Together, we will serve more food insecure children, along with their families.”

As the fiscal sponsor for Food4TI, The River will work with local food banks, grocery stores and other food providers to offer a more stable and cost-effective food supply for the Food for Success coalition.

“By maximizing our collective resources, we will ensure that our local students and their families will have a stable supply of healthy and nutritious food to help them succeed in school—and in life,” McLimans said.

The coalition will develop standardized food lists for each school to make food orders more efficient. Some schools’ lists will include specific culturally sensitive foods for families.

“My number one priority is to feed our babies,” said Henry Sanders, Selfless Ambition President and CEO. “We’ll be able to do that more effectively than ever through this coalition. We’ll be able to get food at better prices, keep the pantries stocked, make sure we have nutritious food that will meet the specific needs of each school community and offer more volunteers the chance to get involved and serve their community. As always, there’s strength in numbers, and I’m proud that Selfless Ambition is part of this dynamic team.”

In addition to streamlining operations to improve cost savings and efficiencies, Food for Success will also collaborate to cross-promote volunteer opportunities across all three partnering organizations to provide the community with more opportunities to get involved.

# # #

About Food for Thought Initiative
Food for Thought Initiative (Food4TI) is a volunteer organization that aims to improve food access and alleviate hunger among Madison area school students and their families. Food4TI operates in-school food pantries in four Madison public schools, as well as weekend food programs. Learn more at

About Selfless Ambition
Selfless Ambition is a charitable organization that aims to reduce the racial achievement gap in local schools through tutors and access to food in school. Selfless Ambition operates in-school pantries in three Madison public schools, as well as several other programs. Learn more at

About The River Food Pantry
Serving Dane County since 2006, The River Food Pantry provides food, resources and faith to build a stronger community. Services include free groceries, meals and clothing, as well as free mobile lunches for children and teens on non-school days. As the area’s busiest food pantry, The River serves over 1,000 households every week in pursuit of its vision: a fully nourished community. Learn more at

Becca Carpenter
Development & Communications Manager
The River Food Pantry

Scrolling Recent Posts Widget

VSRP: No data available

Pantry News

The River Food Pantry Partners with Lasagna Love to Deliver Homemade Lasagnas to Veterans for Veterans Day

[et_pb_text _builder_version="4.9.11" background_size="initial" background_position="top_left" background_repeat="repeat" hover_enabled="0" global_col..

River gear on sale until November 18

[et_pb_image _builder_version="4.9.11" _module_preset="default" title_text="swag-collage" src="