Beyond the costs of tuition and books, day-to-day expenses like food, clothing, and rent can make it challenging for students to make ends meet. The resources and student organizations listed on this page are available at no cost to all students. There is no requirement to prove need or affiliation with the groups below.
A meal prepared by volunteers using surplus food from University Dining. Enter the room and grab a plate! Food is served buffet style. There is no sign-in required and you may come and go as you please. We have to-go boxes to take extra food home!
Hours & Location: Most Thursdays from 6-7 p.m. in the basement of The Crossing (1127 University Avenue).
A refrigerator with free produce that's open to all UW–Madison students, staff, and faculty, for free. Take what you want: We ask that you are courteous to others and only take what you will eat.
Hours & Location: The main location is in the Student Activity Center (3rd floor by vending machines). Follow the CFS Facebook page for updates on future fridge locations!
Slow Food offers a three-course, delicious, locally sourced meal for $5. The menu and the link to purchase a meal is available on the Slow Food UW Facebook page. Click the Family Dinner Night event and follow the instructions for your intent to attend.
Hours & Location: Every Monday from 6:30-7:30 p.m. in the basement of The Crossing (1127 University Avenue, wheelchair accessible)
CAFE PAY IT FORWARD
Drop in Wednesdays between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. or Mondays from 6:30-7:30 p.m. in the basement of The Crossing for lunch.
Sometimes people donate money when they buy their meal. This money is set so that everyone is able to enjoy the food regardless of ability to pay. Check in at the desk and tell the cashiers you would like to use a Pay it Forward meal. Give your name and order, and find a seat. Your name will be called when your order is ready.
Free Frozen Meals
Leftover food from the dining halls is repackaged into frozen, microwaveable meals for students to take at no cost. Microwaves are available for use. Frozen meals are available to any student facing food insecurity.
Hours & Location: Mondays–Thursdays 9 a.m.–8 p.m.; Fridays 9 a.m.–4 p.m. at The Crossing Campus Ministry, 1127 University Avenue.
The Open Seat is a student-funded, student-run, and student-serving food pantry by the Associated Students of Madison. All students with a Wiscard are eligible. Students can come to The Open Seat during any of our open hours or by appointment. On the first visit, students will be asked to provide their Wiscard, complete two forms, and sign-in. Students may select items that add up to their allotted points per visit. Students are allowed to use the pantry once per week. A variety of non-perishable food items including canned vegetables and fruit, beans, pasta, cereal, oats, snacks, and more. The Open Seat also offers personal care and hygiene products, menstrual products, bread, and select fresh produce.
Hours & Location: Tuesdays 5–8 p.m.; Thursdays 5:30–7:30 p.m.; Sundays 2:30–5 p.m.
Located on the 4th floor of the Student Activity Center, 333 East Campus Mall, room 4209.
Surplus food from University Dining recovered by the Food Recovery Network and served by The Crossing and volunteers to fight waste and feed people. You will serve yourself buffet style. Come early before the food runs out!
Hours & Location: Tuesdays during the academic year from 12:30 – 1 pm (not held during Spring Break) at The Crossing.
Enjoy a free, nondenominational lunch. Enter the Lutheran Campus Center and follow the line to the kitchen area. It's recommended that you arrive at 11:45. The food is served buffet style.
Hours & Location: Lunch is served Monday through Friday starting at noon during the semester at the Lutheran Campus Center, 325 N. Mills Street (next to the Chemistry Building).
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) offers nutrition assistance to eligible, low-income individuals and families. The food and nutrition service works with state agencies, nutrition educators, and neighborhood and faith-based organizations to ensure that those eligible for nutrition assistance can access benefits. Your QUEST card with funds allocated by the Electronic Benefits Transfer system will be accepted at the register.
Hours & Location: Select markets and dining halls on campus including Badger Market.
To learn more about SNAP, visit ACCESS.wi.gov, Wisconsin's online tool to apply for benefits. UW students can also contact The Open Seat for assistance with signing up for SNAP. Purchasable items are easy to locate in each facility.
Dial 2-1-1: 2-1-1 is a local, emergency food program administered by the United Way and connects people to resources.
Harvest Handouts offers free, fresh produce to students. A line forms based on a first come, first serve basis and produce is offered until it runs out. Simply show up (we recommend you bring a bag with you).
Hours & Location: Fridays, May to October, 2 pm at Library Mall.
The Keep Food Pantry
The Keep Food Pantry offers nutritious food choices which include fresh produce, dairy products, frozen prepared meals and also bakery items. It serves students, faculty and staff of the UW Madison, Edgewood College and Madison College. An academic ID is required.
Hours & Location: The Food Pantry is located at Luther Memorial Church, 1021 University Avenue. Please use courtyard entrance on University Ave. Currently open Thursdays 4–7 pm. (Coming soon: Sundays 1–3 pm)
The Dean of Students Office provides individualized assistance to students facing food insecurity, including information about campus and community resources and crisis loans/grants. We encourage students to reach out in person, by phone at 608.263.5700 or by email to email@example.com.
Badger Food Assistance Resource for Emergencies (FARE) connects students who are dealing with temporary and/or ongoing food insecurity with campus and community resources for long-term support, while providing them with funds that they can immediately use to purchase food on campus. Badger FARE provides students with a $25 meal card for the Unions and information on long-term resources. There is no application for students to complete and the gift card amount does not need to be repaid. Students struggling to afford food can connect with the following campus personnel to obtain the $25 meal card:
UHS Care Management: Beth Adamsk
Adult Career and Special Student Services: Autumn Sanchez and Martin Rouse
Dean of Students Office: Kate Dougherty
Financial Aid: Greg Offerman
Multicultural Student Center: Gabe Javier
LGBT Campus Center: Katherine Charek Briggs
Engineering Student Services: Megan Schreiber and Nancy Hansen