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Without food pantries, thousands of people in our community wouldn’t have access to enough food to meet their basic needs.

The demand across six of Dane County’s largest food pantries has reached record highs, more than doubling over the last two years, while charitable giving has plummeted nationwide during that same time period. The 112% increase represents the average increase in the number of household visits across the six pantries between December 2021 and December 2023.

Up to this point, community support has been a critical part of how pantries have met the need, local pantry leaders said.

“We have never turned anyone away, but we have had to put some limits on the amount of food people can take,” said Ellen Carlson, executive director for WayForward Resources in Middleton. “We worry about how we and other local food pantries can continue to ensure that everyone in our community has access to nutritious food.”

The pressure on pantries to meet the need escalated in Spring 2023 as pandemic-era supports phased out, including the expanded child tax credit, universal free school lunches, and increased federal food and rental assistance.

“In the past four years, we’ve felt the impact of a pandemic, inflation, high housing costs and increased migration,” said Tracy Burton, Badger Prairie Needs Network Food Pantry Director. “All of these combined have resulted in over five times the number of visits to our pantry from pre-pandemic levels.”

Rhonda Adams, executive director of The River Food Pantry, said the number of households in need of the pantry’s services began growing steadily over the past few years and then surged when most pandemic relief programs phased out last spring, resulting in over 276,000 visits by households in need of groceries and meals in 2023 alone. “Food insecurity is a communal issue, even if we may not always recognize when it is affecting our friends and neighbors, and support from the broader community will continue to be essential to successfully addressing it,” Adams said.

While inflation has slowed down, prices for basic goods and housing have not returned to pre-pandemic levels. The consumer price index, the most widely-followed measure of inflation, remains about 20% higher than it was before the pandemic. In addition, the steep increase in housing costs in Dane County means many households in our community have to focus even more of their income on rent.

“Many of our customers are people who are employed full-time and finding it necessary to choose between paying bills and buying food,” said Francesca Frisque, Goodman Community Center food pantry assistant director, who said growth there has been consistent and “sometimes staggering.”

“We’re thankful for so many generous partners throughout the community, and we have an incredible base of donors who give regularly. Even still, we’re not seeing as many donations come in, and we’re having a hard time keeping our shelves stocked,” Frisque said. “Without help from the community, we wouldn’t be able to meet the need of our Madison neighbors.”

Food pantries help families stretch their budgets so they don’t have to go without basic necessities and can continue to cover costs such as filling their gas tank to get to work and paying for prescriptions.

“We continue to respond to escalating pantry need with a variety of food options so people and families don’t have to choose between paying rent and buying groceries,” said Chris Kane, senior director of client services at the Society of St. Vincent de Paul — Madison.

Here are some of their stories:

“We won’t turn anyone away, and we’re spending more money each month to make sure our shelves are stocked,” said Catie Badsing, manager of food security programs at the Sun Prairie Food Pantry at Sunshine Place. As the gap between wages and cost of living continues to widen, Badsing said pantries will keep seeing more new families who need their services. More than 8% of employed adults in Wisconsin live in food insecure households, according to a recent Census Pulse Household Survey.

“Our shifts outside of regular working hours are our busiest, which means most of our customers are working, sometimes multiple jobs,” Badsing said.

There is a misconception that food pantries operate mainly with state or federal support, but only a small amount of food comes in through the federal Emergency Food Assistance Program. Instead pantries must stock their shelves by relying on a complex web of systems and collaborations. That includes strategic partnerships like those with Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin, food rescues from local grocery and convenience stores, as well as monetary and food donations from businesses, foundations, churches, and individuals.

“Unfortunately, many grants have stayed at the same levels, pandemic era funding is gone, our guests’ SNAP benefits have been reduced, and our food banks have been struggling to keep up with this growth,” said Burton from Badger Prairie Needs Network. “We’ve been grateful to be in a community that has always risen to the need — but with this enormous growth, we will need to find new sources of food and/or money or will have to restrict access to the pantry.”

While generous food drives at the end of 2023 had a major impact for people in our community, hunger doesn’t end with the holiday season. Donations of money, food and your volunteer time can all make an immediate difference in the lives of so many of our neighbors who need our support now more than ever.

You voted St. Vinny’s Thrift Stores as the best around town. Thank you! And, thank you for shopping and donating. We are proud to operate quality thrift stores and bring you unique, one-of-a-kind events.

Recent awards:

Madison Magazine Best of Madison: People’s Choice:
Waunakee’s Tribune Best of Waunakee Awards:
Sun Prairie STAR Best of Sun Prairie Awards


During November, National Homelessness Awareness Month, take a moment to learn about the realities of homelessness. In our own community, roughly 750 Madison Schools – MMSD students currently experience homelessness.

Key definitions:

  • Homelessness: “a condition in which an individual or family lacks a fixed, regular, nighttime residence; resides in a public or private residence that is not designed or intended to be a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings; lives in a supervised shelter designated to provide temporary living arrangements; and/or is at imminent risk of losing their housing and has no subsequent residence identified or resources to obtain other permanent housing.”
  • Unaccompanied youth / homeless families with children: have experienced a long term period without living independently in permanent housing, have experienced persistent instability as measured by frequent moves over such period, and can be expected to continue in such status for an extended period of time because of chronic disabilities, chronic physical health or mental health conditions, substance addiction, histories of domestic violence or childhood abuse, the presence of a child or youth with a disability, or multiple barriers to employment.

Source: Cornell Law School

Press release

Madison, WI – The statewide kickoff event for Homelessness Awareness Month will be held at the Wisconsin State Capitol Rotunda on Nov. 1 at noon. This event is open to the public and everyone is invited to attend. Speakers will include state representatives addressing the concerns of homelessness in Wisconsin and individuals speaking about their lived experience of homelessness. This event is an opportunity to build much needed awareness of the homeless crisis in our state.

Local communities around the state may also be holding their own events in the month of November to mark Homelessness Awareness Month.

One of the speakers at the Nov. 1 statewide event will be state Rep. Patrick Snyder (Assembly District 85). According to Rep. Snyder, “Collaboration and coordination among government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and community groups are crucial to ensure efficient delivery of services and resources to homeless individuals. Establishing interagency partnerships can help streamline processes and maximize the impact of available resources.”

Michael Basford, Director of the Wisconsin Interagency Council on Homelessness, is also scheduled to speak at the statewide kickoff event. “As we reflect in November on the issues of homelessness in our communities, we must recognize that homelessness affects too many people in Wisconsin. It is happening in every area of our state – whether urban, suburban, or rural. It is on all of us to provide help and resources for Wisconsinites experiencing homelessness and ensure that people who need it get access to safe, affordable housing,” said Basford, in preparation for the event.

The Nov. 1 statewide kickoff event will also feature a Ribbon Tree designed to showcase and measure the different types of homelessness experienced in Wisconsin. Works of art, of various media, created by artists depicting how they see, or have personally experienced homelessness, will be on display and available for purchase. Through these events we hope we can come together to find better solutions to address this growing issue of homelessness in our state and communities.

A collection of articles, videos and stories from local news stations on the Society of St. Vincent de Paul — Madison.


The Cap Times: St. Vincent de Paul offers microloans to compete with payday lenders

City Cast Madison: (begin listening at 08:32)

WPR: Madison nonprofit to offer payday lender alternative

Baldwin-Williamson Street Project

608 Today: Coming soon to Madison: what not to miss in 2024

WISPolitics: Solar for Good, RENEW Wisconsin: Powers up Wisconsin nonprofits – provides $280,000 in grants The changing face of Willy Street: St. Vincent de Paul to demolish 3 buildings by thrift store

Sun Prairie Star: St. Vinny’s to break ground on new facility March 13

Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce: St. Vincent de Paul — Madison announces the groundbreaking for its new building

Sun Prairie Star: St. Vinny’s breaks ground on new Madison thrift store

InBusiness: St. Vincent de Paul — Madison breaks ground on expanded thrift store

NBC15: St. Vincent de Paul of Madison breaks ground on store expansion project

Channel3000: (begin video at 08:30) News 3 Now at Five – March 13, 2023

The Catholic Herald: St. Vincent de Paul breaks ground on new renovations

The Cap Times: St. Vincent de Paul plans expansion on Willy Street

Thrift stores

Real Estate in the 608: Behind the scenes of St. Vinnies

NBC15: Dane Co. non-profit gives wool sweaters a second life, donates funds to food pantries

Wisconsin State Journal: ReMitts spins wool into $750,000 to support Madison food pantries

Wisconsin State Journal: Coats and jackets fly off shelves at St. Vinny’s, the ‘best deal in town’

Madison on the Cheap: Shop the Dig & Save $1 Coat Sale on Nov. 2

NBC15: St. Vinny’s Dig & Save Outlet Store 26th annual $1 Coat Sale

Wisconsin State Journal: You can buy a coat for $1 at St. Vinny’s on Thursday

Isthmus: $1 Coat Sale

Channel3000: The ultimate guide to secondhand shopping in Madison

NBC15: Madison thrift store kicks of record event

The Cap Times: How to ‘buy nothing’ and join Madison’s sharing economy 

The Badger Herald: Sustainable fashion options to fill your summer wardrobe

Madison365: Shop St. Vinny’s Thrift Stores to help your budget, help your planet and help you neighbors in need

WMSN Fox47: Get rid of bulky furniture with ease and help your community with St. Vincent de Paul

Stark: Score Vintage Finds At These Thrift Shops

Channel 27: Students’ leases end in downtown Madison, trash starts to pile up on curbs

NBC15: Thrift store shopping for back-to-school clothing on a budget

NBC15: Thrifting for back-to-school needs

Charitable pharmacy

La Movida: El Debate, Wednesday November 15th

Spectrum News: Charitable Pharmacy celebrates 10 years of serving patients in need

Madison365: St. Vincent de Paul Charitable Pharmacy provides life-saving prescriptions and medications for low-income clients

Sostento (begin watching at 45:29): Uber Rides for Health Equity

Clothing + furniture vouchers

Channel3000: 12 Days of Giving — The Kight family

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Program

Madison South Rotary:

Food pantry

WMSN Fox47: How you can help local families with our School’s Out Community Care Drive

Isthmus: School’s Out Community Care Drive

WKOW-27: Dane Co. food pantries struggle with 112% increase in demand

NBC15: Dane Co. food pantries seek community support as demand skyrockets

NBC15: Demand at Dane Co. food pantries jumps to 112% over last two years

The Cap Time: Dane County food pantries say demand surged to record highs

NBC 15: Madison food pantries seeking volunteers ahead of busiest season

NBC15: Dane Co. non-profit gives wool sweaters a second life, donates funds to food pantries

Wisconsin State Journal: ReMitts spins wool into $750,000 to support Madison food pantries

Isthmus: Give Back Give Thanks

WMSN Fox47: Volunteer with St. Vincent de Paul Madison’s Food Pantry

Sun Prairie STAR: Sun Prairie restaurant partners on food drive

NBC15: Mad Kidney Fest emerges to highlight awareness, kidney-friendly menu options

Wisconsin State Journal: Already reeling from inflated food costs, families now face Foodshare cuts

Wisconsin Public Radio: Food pantries experiencing extremely high demand this holiday season More demand, higher prices: Madison food pantries feel the pinch of inflation

PBS Wisconsin: Inflation hits Wisconsin food pantries and the families they support ‘We haven’t hit the ceiling yet;’ Dane County food pantries worried about record demand

Madison365: Area food pantries report record demand, need donations

WKOW-27: Area food pantries report record demand, decreasing donations

The Catholic Herald: Record demand at Dane County food pantries

Sun Prairie Star: Increased demand stressing area food pantries, including Sun Prairie’s

The Badger Herald: Dane County food pantries see record demand

Madison Commons: Dane County food pantries facing more demand than ever before

WORT 89.9 Food pantries struggle to keep up with demand 

NBC15: Increased food need exhibited by high demand at Dane County food pantries

InBusiness: Area food pantries report record demand

Channel3000: Dane County food pantries see record high demand

Middleton Cross Plains Times-Tribune: Demand Up at Food Pantries Around the Area, Donations Needed

The Cap Times: St. Vincent food pantry in Madison sees record-high use

Member conferences

Channel3000: Society of St. Vincent de Paul holds winter blanket drive

WKOW-27: St. Vincent de Paul hosting annual Recycle the Warmth Blanket Drive

Sun Prairie Star: St. Vinny’s to host ‘Recycle the Warmth’ drive January 27-29

Catholic Review: At National Assembly, members of Society of St. Vincent de Paul urged to renew commitment to home visits


La Movida: El Debate, Wednesday November 15th

NBC 15: Madison food pantries seeking volunteers ahead of busiest season

WMSN Fox47: Volunteer with St. Vincent de Paul Madison’s Food Pantry

The Catholic Herald: St. Vincent de Paul honors dedicated volunteers


Madison365: Elisha Santiago-Barudin becomes first-ever senior director of human resources of Society of St. Vincent de Paul – Madison

The Catholic Herald: Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Madison welcomes senior director of human resources

Read how your care, compassion and encouragement help neighbors in need. Current edition: Lent 2024

24 Lent NL Website


Beginning Sunday, April 14th for up to five weeks, the St. Vinny’s Willy Street store will temporarily close to complete major steps in the renovation process. The store will be closed for both shopping and donations. Thank you for your patience.

Background, Plans & FAQ

Current Plans and Renderings Background and FAQs

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul — Madison will conduct a building project near the intersection of Williamson Street and S. Baldwin Street in Madison. The zone currently hosts the St. Vincent de Paul Williamson Street Thrift Store and the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Program office.

The intent is to demolish two structurally compromised buildings along Baldwin Street – as well as the Williamson Street store’s book room, which shares the lot with one of those buildings. A two-story building at the Baldwin Williamson corner will be erected and a single-story building will be expanded retail space, while the new corner building’s second floor will house the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Program, supportive services for single parents of minor children to stabilize their housing and lives.

Brief history

The core mission of the District Council of Madison – Society of St. Vincent de Paul is helping Dane County neighbors in need. A nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization, the Society has been engaged in that mission in Madison since 1925 and has had a physical locus in the Williamson-Marquette neighborhood since 1941, when SVdP Madison opened a store on Baldwin Street. From that location, St. Vincent de Paul’s retail and service complex grew organically around the Baldwin corner to Williamson Street to become the Society’s local flagship thrift store. The parcel at the corner of Williamson and Baldwin streets has since served as the Society’s busy food pantry and then as the office location of the Seton House women’s transitional housing program – as well the site of the adjoining Willy Street store’s book room.

The Williamson-Baldwin corner property and the original Baldwin Street portion of the thrift-store complex have clearly reached their end of life. SVdP Madison has been advised that the corner “Seton 2” building, an old balloon-frame structure, is not sound enough to salvage and remodel. Compromised wooden roof trusses of the Baldwin retail property have led the Society to empty that space and leave it unused for its usual purpose. The century-old concrete structure of the Baldwin store space is of unknown design capacity. After carefully considering options, St. Vincent de Paul is seeking to rebuild in the footprint of these two parcels. New construction designed to sensitively honor the look and feel of the local traditional shopping street and historic district will best serve the interest of safety, modern code compliance, energy efficiency, sustainability, and avoidance of unintended consequences.

These are key objectives for the future of properties SVdP Madison intends to continue using for purposes toward which the site has long been put. Those purposes are supporting and meeting the Society’s mission by selling and giving away donated goods and by offering other charitable services to local households in need. Through new, historically sensitive construction, SVdP Madison’s plan is to devote almost all first-floor space to retail and – for the corner – parcel create second-floor space focused on serving neighbors in need through SVdP Madison charitable programming.

Selected news coverage The changing face of Willy Street: St. Vincent de Paul to demolish 3 buildings by thrift store

Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce: St. Vincent de Paul — Madison announces the groundbreaking for its new building

NBC15: St. Vincent de Paul of Madison breaks ground on store expansion project

Channel3000: (begin video at 08:30) News 3 Now at Five – March 13, 2023

The Catholic Herald: St. Vincent de Paul breaks ground on new renovations

The Cap Times: St. Vincent de Paul plans expansion on Willy Street

St. Vincent de Paul Charitable Pharmacy has COVID-19 vaccines and information, for free! We also have flu shots available. Schedule your appointment to protect yourself, your family and the ones you love. Click the link below or call (608) 292-2549 to schedule your COVID-19 vaccine. We have resumed our COVID-19 testing. You can also refer here for testing locations in Dane County. What to do if you test positive.

Schedule your COVID-19 vaccine here.

Schedule your COVID-19 test here.

Do you need a ride to your COVID-19 vaccine appointment? Through Uber, we can pick you up. Please call: (608) 268-0355.

St. Vincent de Paul Charitable Pharmacy is open:

St. Vincent de Paul Pharmacy is committed to keep their doors open. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Charitable Pharmacy staff and volunteers have kept doors open, provided free medications, COVID-19 vaccines and information to Dane County neighbors in need.