Food pantries provide free food to individuals at nutritional risk given lack of available foods. Frequent use of food pantries is associated with higher dietary quality; however, neither the nutrient contributions of food pantries to participant diets nor their relationship with household food security are known. This cross-sectional analysis used secondary data from rural food pantry participants, including sociodemographic characteristics, household food security and 24-h recalls. Mean intakes of selected food groups and nutrients from food pantries, supermarkets, other stores and restaurants, and other were compared by one-way ANCOVA. Interaction effects of household food security with food sources were evaluated by two-way ANCOVA. About 40 % of participants’ dietary intake came from food pantries. Mean intakes of fibre (P < 0·0001), Na (P < 0·0001), fruit (P < 0·0001), grains (P < 0·0001) and oils (P < 0·0001) were higher from food pantries compared with all other sources, as were Ca (P = 0·004), vitamin D (P < 0·0001) and K (P < 0·0001) from food pantries compared with two other sources. Percentage total energy intake (%TEI) from added sugars (P < 0·0001) and saturated fat (P < 0·0001) was higher from supermarkets than most other sources. Significant interaction effects were observed between food sources and household food security for vegetables (P = 0·01), Na (P = 0·01) and %TEI from saturated fat (P = 0·004), with food-insecure participants having significantly higher intakes from food pantries and/or supermarkets compared with all other sources. Future interventions may incorporate these findings by providing education on purchasing and preparing healthy meals on limited budgets, to complement foods received from pantries, and by reducing Na in pantry environments.