About Food at First

The Food At First program, in Ames, Iowa consists of a daily free meal program and a perishable food pantry known to the community as the Food at First Free Market.

What Food at First is about, and what Food at First does to help Ames and surrounding community

Food at First is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing meals to anyone who is hungry, everyone welcome, no questions asked. Food at First serves a hot meal every day of the year and hasn’t missed a meal in a decade! All meals are served in the lower level of First Christian Church in downtown Ames. The Food at First food pantry called the Free Market is open three days a week. Almost everything Food at First serves is made from food gleaned from local grocery stores, restaurants, and Iowa State University. Not only does Food at First help those who are hungry, it helps reduce food waste in Ames! In 2019 43,000 individuals were served through the Free Market, and 26,500 meals were served through the Free Meal program. Food at First operates on donations from individuals and businesses. These donations go towards Food at First building expenses, equipment repairs, one paid employee, cleaning supplies, paper products and other items that are not normally donated. It costs Food at First $1.35 to provide one free meal. A $100 donation can feed 74 patrons!

Free Meals

The free meal program serves seven meals a week, 365 days per year, and is open to anyone who is hungry, everyone welcome, no questions asked. Most are evening meals, and all are served at First Christian Church, downtown Ames. Food At First is independent of First Christian Church, but through a space and cost sharing agreement we are located in their building. Almost everything that we serve would otherwise have been thrown away by local grocery stores and food services, but has been turned into wonderful, tasty meals! Because of that, we have PLENTY of food for anyone who could use a little help.

Food Pantry / Free Market

The perishable food pantry takes thousands of pounds of great food that are left over AFTER taking what Food at First Head Chefs use to prepare daily wholesome healthy meals, and give to folks who need it. Free Market distribution events are located at 611 Clark Ave, First Christian Church, lower level. The donated food is perishable, so Food at First volunteers collect and give away a small grocery store full of food at 3 weekly regular distributions: 4:30 to 5:30 PM every Monday and Thursday, and 10:00 to 11:00 on Saturday mornings.

Get Involved

There are several ways to get involved at Food at First. Find one that’s right for you!

More Info

You can find out more about the program through our coverage in the media, and a history of Food at First. Finally, if you are a professor/teacher who is assigning community service to your students, please read our Instructor Guidelines full of helpful hints for instructors.

Please contact us if you have any questions. Thank you for caring about those in need in our community!

Food at First is an equal opportunity provider. Food at First celebrates diversity and is committed to creating an inclusive environment for all.

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