Basic Needs Resources

Below are resources offered both through UW-Madison as well as our local community to help support your basic needs. There are also Basic Needs Assistants available to help connect with you to navigate resources. You can connect directly with a Basic Needs Assistant by either emailing or completing this request form.

This list of resources focuses on the Madison area – if you need resources in a different area, the United Way 211 will give you information based on your zip code. You can also call 211 and will be given information for the nearest emergency food provider.

When life is tough, Remember you are tougher!

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Financial Resources

Through the Office of Student Financial Aid, students will receive responses in within 2 business days and can request assistance in four ways:

Tenant Resource Center

Application for Dane Core is available for low-income renters in Dane County that are struggling with past or future rent payments or facing eviction. Find out more information about eligibility here.

Joining Forces for Families (JFF)

All JFF offices are closed, but services can be used through email or phone. Joining Forces for Families can help those with children and finances.

Food Resources

The Open Seat (on campus)

The Open Seat supplies any UW-Madison student in need with free boxes of food packed and distributed by Second Harvest Foodbank. These food boxes come in 10-15 lb sizes. Options vary weekly but various quantities of produce, dairy, and dry goods are typically available. We are providing produce boxes (only East Campus Mall) and produce, cooler, and dry boxes (for the Eagle Heights location) during the summer.

The Keep Food Pantry (on campus)

The Keep is in the basement of Luther Memorial Church- 1021 University Ave. Their academic year hours will be Thursday 3:30 pm- 5:30 pm. Bring along your student ID.

F.H. King’s Harvest Handouts (on campus)

F.H. King: Students for Sustainable Agriculture runs a 1-acre plot of land where they grow and harvest organic produce. They give away this produce for free on a weekly basis throughout the growing season. Currently, their Harvest Handouts are on Tuesdays at 12:00 pm outside Union South.

Catholic Multicultural Center (on bus route)

Located at 1862 Beld St., daily free meals are distributed to-go from the CMC parking lot weekdays 4:00 pm- 5:00 pm and weekends 11:00 am- 12:00 pm. Food pantry hours are Tuesday 2:00 pm- 3:30 pm and Thursday 10:30 am- 12:00 pm, sign-up is in the parking lot. Food pantry delivery and employment search assistance are also available on their website.

Fritz Food Pantry- Goodman Community Center (on bus route)

No longer serving meals, but the food pantry is distributing prepackaged bags at 149 Waubesa St. in the parking lot on Tuesday 9:30 am- 12:00 pm, Wednesday 6:00 pm- 8:00 pm, and Thursday 12:30 pm- 3:00 pm.

St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry (on bus route)

Effective May 15th, curbside pick-up for packaged boxes of food is available at 2033 Fish Hatchery Rd. on Monday, Tuesday, Friday 10:30 am- 2:30 pm and Thursday 2:30 pm- 6:30 pm.

Luke House (on bus route)

Located at 310 S Ingersoll St., bagged meals are being served Sunday through Thursday 5:45 pm- 6:30 pm, and Monday through Thursday 11:30 am- 12:30 pm.

Neighborhood House Community Center (on bus route)

The Neighborhood House Community Center is located of Mills Street in the Greenbush Neighborhood in Madison and has a walk-in food pantry every Wednesday and Thursday from 2-6pm. There is no need to present proof of residency, income, or show ID in order to come to this pantry. Every week they get produce from local farms such as Wonka’s Harvest and Troy Gardens.

The YMCA/ Second Harvest

If your household has food insecurity issues, the YMCA is here to support you. Through a combination of local partnerships, FREE food resources are available at five sites in Madison and Sun Prairie.

River Food Pantry

The River Food Pantry provides food, resources and faith to build a stronger community. Services include free groceries, meals and clothing, as well as free mobile lunches for children and teens on non-school days. For more information on services being provided at this time, please refer to their website.

Grace Food Pantry- Grace Episcopal Church

Located near the Capitol at 116 W Washington Ave., food will be given outside the building. Distribution is scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 1:00 pm- 3:00 pm and Saturday from 10:00 am- 12:00 pm. Bring a form of ID for all members in the family.

Lussier Community Education Center

LCE asks individuals to stay in their vehicles or outside and they will deliver bags of food to you. There are no limits on pantry visits during this time. Located at 55 S Gammon Rd., distribution is available Wednesday 7:00 pm- 8:00 pm and Saturday 12:00 pm- 1:00 pm.

Second Harvest

FoodShare Helpline at 1-877-366-3635: The Helpline can schedule a time for them to speak with a FoodShare Outreach Specialist over the phone quickly.

FoodShare/ SNAP

FoodShare is a government program that gives cash benefits on a card that can be used for groceries. Click here for a powerpoint to help you apply. If you have questions with this process, please reach out to If you’re already receiving FoodShare/SNAP benefits, check out this retail locator.

Check out the Dane County Food Pantry Network for additional food assistance resources around Madison!

Mental Health

University Health Services

All services are free to UW-Madison students. Telehealth appointments and mental health services are available over the summer and students can schedule appointments online through MyUHS or over phone at 608-265-5600 (option 2). The crisis line (608-265-5600, option 9) and SilverCloud are available 24/7. Please visit for additional resources. COVID-19 testing is also available to students by appointment after they have seen a provider.

NAMI Dane County

Check out their website for free online support groups, a support line/email, video seminars, and mental health advice!

Financial Aid Student Success Services

If you are looking for someone to talk to during this time, Student Success Center has graduate students who will be able to talk via phone, video, platforms, or email. There are success coaches ( and basic needs support staff ( available for this service. Disclaimer: Success coaches and basic needs specialists are not trained mental health professionals.

Crisis Text-Line

Text HOME to 741741. They have trained crisis counselors who will listen to you and help completely over text messaging. You can also contact them through

Phone Apps

There are many apps that focus on improving mental health.

Affiliated with the Center for Healthy Minds at UW-Madison, Healthy Minds Innovations recently launched a well-being app which is currently free due to COVID-19. The app, called the Healthy Minds Program, is a digital well-being tool backed by decades of research at UW.

Some other free apps are Mindfulness, What’s Up, Mind Shift, Self-Help for Anxiety Management, CBT Thought Record Diary, Happify, Breathe2Relax, Clear Fear, Headspace: Meditation & Sleep, and many more.

Badger Recovery

Badger Recovery provides support and community for students in active recovery from substance use disorder and other behavioral and process addictions. Badger Recovery strives to provide a safe environment that empowers students to stay on track with their recovery to help achieve academic and personal goals. They also welcome allies, family, friends, and students working toward recovery through a risk-reduction approach. Badger Recovery currently offers an All-Recovery Meeting on Mondays at 7 p.m. via Zoom. Students working with Badger Recovery have access to dedicated university staff who will continue to support and advocate for them along their recovery journey.

Health Insurance


BadgerCare is free, state provided health insurance. Students can apply at  and can reach out to with questions regarding eligibility or the application process.

The Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) is available in the summer for students enrolled in summer courses. Students can use some of their summer financial aid package to purchase SHIP. More information can be found here.

Covering Wisconsin

Covering Wisconsin is a nonprofit organization that helps people in Wisconsin find and use health insurance.

Our expert Health Insurance Navigators provide free help all year. Talk to a Navigator to:

  • Find plans and financial help—including programs that help pay for insurance, like HealthConnect in Dane County.
  • Sign up for, BadgerCare Plus or Medicaid.
  • Get answers to your health insurance questions. No question is too big or too small.
  • Get help with billing or coverage problems.

Two ways to make an appointment:

Internet and Technology

Students are able to checkout laptops through the summer term for free from Memorial Library. Bring your Wiscard and call ahead to confirm the check out.

AT&T has home internet for limited income households at $10 a month. They will also not be terminating service due to inability to pay during this time.

The Federal Communications Commission is offering an Affordable Connectivity Program which will provide a discount up to $50 per month on broadband service at eligible households.

Explore this resource from MyMove that shares a few methods for finding free internet service.


During this time, we strongly recommend social distancing. However, if you are healthy and in need of work, here are a few ideas.

Student Jobs Portal

There are listings posted now for childcare positions. You can also get a head start looking for a summer job. 

There is a high demand for childcare workers. also works for matching care for senior citizens.

Grocery Stores 

There are opportunities for limited term employment at different grocery stores that are paying very well. Stores currently hiring in Madison are Festival, Whole Foods, Hyvee, Metcalfe’s Market, Trader Joe’s, Pick n Save, Kroger, and possibly others.

Delivery Drivers

With restaurants only being able to serve carryout or delivery, there is an increased need for drivers to deliver food to customers. Also, companies like Shipt are in need of people to shop and deliver groceries.

Unemployment Information

Federal Unemployment Information

Child Care

Child Care Tuition Assistance Program (CCTAP) 

This resource provides financial assistance to income eligible UW-Madison parent students for child care expenses. The application for Fall 2020 semester became available July 20, 2020. Students are required to reapply every semester that financial assistance is needed, resources are available to help find a licensed child care provider.

WI Shares

State subsidy program that funds a portion of child care expenses while parents are working or in school. This fund covers child care costs for the time period parents are in class or covers one hour per credit for online courses. Apply online at and complete an eligibility interview. Parent students are required to be working 20 hours a month, which can include work study approved employers. Youngstar is a tool to assist parents in finding an approved child care provider. Questions about eligibility and application process can be directed to the Dane County call center at 1-888-794-5556.

City of Madison Child Care

Resource that connects families with licensed child care providers to promote high quality child care and early education in the City of Madison.


Assists families in finding a child care provider. All recommended programs are regulated through the Department of Children and Families. Parents can search for providers near them here and contact 608-271-9181 with any questions.

Reach Dane

Child care providers are licensed by the state of WI and accredited by the City of Madison. All centers work with families that have a child care subsidy. Parents can contact 608-275-6740 with questions.