In 2016 over 650 households visited The River each week. Like many, Angela shops at The River so she can put food on the table for her family. Photo by Nick Berard

By Hannah Becker
River Food Pantry

For the past 11 years, The River Food Pantry’s mission has been to help individuals and families struggling to make ends meet by providing food, clothing and meals while also connecting with the community and contributing to a greater good.

There are many reasons why a person walks through The River’s door. Many need a little assistance with food so they can pay their bills and rent on time. For others, there simply would not be food on the table if it wasn’t for The River Food Pantry.

Angela has been shopping at The River on and off for the past five years. “It hasn’t always been like this for me,” Angela said. “Everything changed when I had my son, Thor, and became a stay-at-home mom.” Angela’s husband works long hours as a cab driver, but the one source of income just isn’t enough for the family to make ends meet on their own. Angela said she’s thankful for a place like The River because her family is not always able to purchase groceries with their budget. “We simply do not have enough money,” Angela stated. “It’s really unfortunate that we have to rely on the pantry as a source of food but without it, I don’t know what we’d do.”

Not only is The River a place for Angela and her family to receive clothes and groceries, it’s an environment where she feels comfortable. At a young age, Thor was diagnosed with autism. “I can still recall telling the news to Rhonda [The River’s operations director] when he was first diagnosed,” Angela said. “She hugged me and reassured me that everything was going to be okay, and she was right. He’s my own little super hero.” Angela has also received donated gifts from The River for her family’s Christmas. “It was beautiful seeing Thor’s face light up,” said Angela. Even though Angela and her family don’t have much at the moment, she wanted to give back somehow. “I wrote the woman who bought those gifts a thank you card,” Angela recalled. “It’s the least I could do after what she did for my family.”

Guests who visit The River not only receive fresh, nutritious food and basic necessities, they also enjoy the simple pleasure of being treated with decency, compassion and dignity. The River understands that, behind every plate and every product, there’s a person and a neighbor in need. With the help of volunteers and donors, people like Angela know they have a place for food, clothing and comfort, and a place to connect with others in the community. “I know it’s going to get better,” Angela shared with a smile. “I’m just glad we have this place to rely on for right now.”

There are many ways you can support The River Food Pantry — host a food drive, volunteer your time at the pantry, attend fundraising events, or give a monetary or food donation. Visit www.riverfoodpantry.org to find out how you can get involved with Dane County’s busiest food pantry so individuals and families who are facing financial strain, like Angela, are able to put food on their table.