The Open Seat Food Pantry

A 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.

The Open Seat offered food at a new location at Eagle Heights this fall semester, distributing 6,577 pounds of food in partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank.

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

Here for Students – No Matter What

Throughout the pandemic and with the resurgence of the delta variant, The Open Seat has 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 current public health recommendations, we have shifted to a hybrid model, a grocery style pantry with the option of pre-packaged boxed items every week. These boxes will continue to come with the same quality produce, dairy, and dry goods, while our in-person model offers an array of non-perishable and hygiene products similar to how the pantry functioned pre-pandemic. Our plan is to continue this model through the duration of the pandemic and slowly make the transition back to the full self-selection pantry once scientific recommendations allow us to and the threat of COVID-19 subsides.

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 Food Pantry

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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Learn more about The Open Seat food pantry.