The Open Seat Food Pantry

For Students, By Students

Founded in the spring of 2016, The Open Seat is a food pantry run by students, for students. We strive to provide healthy and accessible sources of food, personal-care goods, and household products to any enrolled student in need.

Each year, the number of students visiting The Open Seat food pantry has increased and often doubled as the number of students affected by food and resource insecurity grows. With this dramatic increase comes an equally dramatic rise in the pantry’s need for financial support.

Donate to The Open Seat Food Pantry

An estimated
12% or 5,438
UW-Madison students are food and resource insecure.

It takes only $30 to feed a student for a week using resources from The Open Seat Food Pantry.

This past year, The Open Seat served over 1,500 students and their dependents.

How We're Adapting to COVID-19

Staff members of The Open Seat wear face masks during the weekly box distribution at Union South.

Here for students – no matter what

Despite classes transitioning to an online format, at The Open Seat we have worked tirelessly to stay open and serve our food insecure student population. Our priority has been developing a system that keeps everyone safe and healthy, but also ensures the vibrancy and stability of our community.

To meet public health recommendations, we have shifted from a grocery style pantry to distributing pre-packaged boxes every week. These boxes come in a 10 lb. size for an individual, or a 25 lb. size for a household of four. Our plan is to continue this model through the duration of the crisis.

Today, your donation means more than ever as students are navigating unprecedented financial stressors and working to make ends meet.

Donate to The Open Seat’s COVID-19 Response

Real Students, Real Stories

“I can’t work at my job anymore because of COVID-19, and I have zero income. Things have been really stressful, especially with applying to jobs and juggling 17 credits. It got to a point that I was eating one meal a day to save money. The Open Seat took a significant burden off my shoulders and I am so thankful that it exists.”

“I’ve been able to have a steady supply of food at a time when my income has been severely limited.”

“During the pandemic, I lost my student hourly job and as a result have been short on money. Thanks to the Open Seat, I saved so much money on grocery shopping. I greatly appreciate your help!”

“I am a new Open Seat user. I found this initiative amazing, especially during these days that even going to the grocery store represents a risk of getting COVID-19”

“Without the Open Seat, I wouldn’t be able to afford enough food for my partner and I to have enough to eat.”

“It has helped to keep me less stressed during this pandemic. I worry about money a lot right now and the fact that I can count on food once a week is a blessing!”


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