Tips for Accessing Healthy Food Over Winter Break

Finding affordable, healthy food on campus can be difficult during winter break. With reduced hours for common dining options like The Open Seat, University Dining, and Wisconsin Union, it becomes even more important to plan ahead and find alternative resources to meet your needs. If you are struggling to find affordable food over break, consider the following options: 

Get Immediate Food Access 

The following resources were gathered with the help of The Open Seat, Associated Students of Madison (ASM), and the Office of Sustainability. 

While the UW Frozen Meal Program continues to provide free, frozen meals for pick up, there are also several local food pantries that offer free meals and groceries. Some even provide home deliveries! 

If you need transportation, consider using your ASM Student Bus Pass for a free, warm ride. Stay up to date on holiday bus schedules and easily plan your trip using the Metro Transit website. You can also use Google Maps. Students also receive discounted rates on ZipCar rentals. With these options, you can more easily travel to the following community resources – all within five miles of campus. 

See a map of these community food resources.

Neighborhood House Community Center Meals & Pantry

29 S Mills St., Madison, WI 53715 

Neighborhood House offers fresh fruits and vegetables, staples like canned veggies and fruit, rice, noodles, boxed meals and soups, as well as eggs, meat, and dairy. Users can visit once per week with no ID required. Closed December 26 – January 1.

  • Open: 
    • Tuesdays 4:00-7:00 p.m. 
    • Wednesdays 12:00-2:00 p.m. and 4:00-7:00 p.m. 
    • Thursdays 12:00-2:00p.m. and 4:00-7:00 p.m. 

The Keep Food Pantry 

Luther Memorial Church, 1021 University Ave, Madison, WI 53715 

 The Keep Food Pantry offers access to nutritious food so members of the campus communities can focus their energies on their academic and career pursuits. The Keep Food Pantry is a ministry of Luther Memorial Church.  

  • Open: Thursdays 2:30-5:30 p.m. 

Savory Sunday 

Wisconsin State Capitol, 2 E Main St., Madison, WI 53703 

 Savory Sunday is a non-profit organization based out of Madison that strives to prepare and serve freshly cooked meals to the hungry community every Sunday (with the exception of Easter Sunday). 

  • Open: Sundays at 2:00 p.m. while supplies last  

Bethel Food Pantry 

312 Wisconsin Ave., Madison, WI 53703 

Bethel’s Pantry is a “choice” pantry allowing guests to select food items of their choice from a shopping list. Pre-registration is required to use the pantry. Call (608)257-3577 after 9:00 a.m. on the same day you plan to use the pantry. 

  • Open: 
    • Mondays 1:00-3:00 p.m. 
    • Tuesdays are not open 
    • Wednesdays 1:00-3:00 p.m. 
    • Fridays 1:00-3:00 p.m. 

Catholic Multicultural Center  

1862 Beld St., Madison, WI 53713 

 The Catholic Multicultural Center (CMC) food pantry is open to all Dane County residents who need food assistance. Each family can use the food pantry as often as once per week on a first-come, first-served basis. All who come during pantry hours will be served. 

  • Open: 
    • Tuesdays 1:30-3:30 p.m. 
    • Thursdays 10:30 a.m.–12:00 p.m. 

The CMC also provides free, hot, and home-cooked meals to enjoy either in community or to-go throughout the week. There is no registration required. Doors open one hour before meal time.

  • Open:
    • Monday-Friday 4:00-5:00 p.m.
    • Note: There will be no meal on Christmas Day, Dec. 25.


The River Food Pantry 

2201 Darwin Rd., Madison, WI 53704 

The River is South Central Wisconsin’s busiest food pantry. Services include free groceries and freshly prepared meals for pickup or delivery, online grocery orders, mobile meals, and emergency food lockers. The River also redistributes rescued food and resources to local partners to increase access while minimizing waste. 

  • Hours vary. See the current schedule here.

Fritz Food Pantry 

Goodman Community Center, 149 Waubesa St., Madison, WI 53704 

 The Fritz Food Pantry believes everyone should have access to a variety of healthy, fresh foods, regardless of their income level, and are proud to provide this valuable service to anyone in our community who needs it. They provide a mix of fresh produce and dairy products, eggs, meat, cheese, and dry goods.  

  • Open: 
    • Tuesdays 9:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m. 
    • Wednesdays 6:00-8:00 p.m. 
    • Thursdays 12:30 p.m.–3:00 p.m. 

For additional support navigating community resources and solutions, visit the United Way 211 Wisconsin App, Dane County Food Pantry Network,and Second Harvest Foodbank. 

Get Year-Round Support 

In addition to these community resources, ACCESS offers state benefits to help meet your long-term needs, such as FoodShare.

On campus, the Dean of Students Office can help you navigate food insecurity throughout the year. Learn about campus food resources on their website or contact them for individualized assistance at (608)263-5700 or The office will be open virtually throughout break and closed on December 25, January 1, and January 15. For a full schedule of adjusted hours, please visit the Dean of Students Office website. 

Students can also request Basic Needs Assistance and Financial Aid Emergency Support through the Office of Student Financial Aid. These resources are available year-round. The office will be closed December 22-January 1 and open from 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. January 2-5. For questions, please contact the office at (608)262-3060 or