MADISON, Wis. — One Dane County food pantry is working to provide for families in need this holiday season.

The River Food Pantry will provide fully-prepared Thanksgiving to-go meals for food-insecure families in Dane County to take home for each member of their household.

“A holiday meal has always been a luxury that many local families can’t afford,” said Rhonda Adams, Interim Executive Director of The River. “Because of COVID-19, more families will not be able to even access a holiday meal due to safety concerns related to traveling, shopping and gathering. The River’s Thanksgiving to-go meals will provide a free, safe and accessible alternative for the growing number of Dane County families facing food insecurity.”

The meals will be available for pickup at The River between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. from Monday through Wednesday. Clients of The River can pick up meals for their household only once during this time period. There is no need to sign up in advance.

Each meal will include turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole or corn, stuffing, a roll and a slice of pie. The food was prepared by a combination of staff, volunteers and community partners, including Madison College.

“We are so grateful to Madison College’s Culinary Arts students and faculty for once again roasting and preparing all the turkeys and 800 pounds of mashed potatoes and gravy!” Adams said. “We also cannot thank all our volunteers enough for helping our staff cook, package and serve all the meals.” 

Distributed through The River’s curbside meal program, FAM (Family At-Home Meals), the meals will be served cold with reheating instructions and allergen information.

Throughout the week before Thanksgiving, The River’s curbside distribution has also provided holiday grocery essentials, including a choice of turkey, ham or chicken.

Dane County residents who cannot leave home to travel to The River may qualify for The River’s new free delivery service, called River Delivers, to receive both household groceries and meals. Registration in advance at is required for deliveries.

The River plans to distribute holiday to-go meals and groceries leading up to Christmas as well.

“Through this new approach, anyone in our community can safely enjoy a delicious holiday meal—even if we can’t all be together,” Adams said.

The holiday to-go meals are made possible by community support of The River’s H.O.P.E. (Help Other People Eat) Holiday Meal Campaign. Visit for more information.