The Food At First program, in Ames, Iowa, currently consists of two parts: a free meal program, and a perishable food pantry which is called the Free Market.

Free Meals

The free meal program serves seven meals a week, 365 days per year, and is open to anyone who is hungry, no questions asked. Most are evening meals, and all are served at First Christian Church in downtown Ames. While the name is similar, Food At First is independent of First Christian Church who generously allows us to use their building!  Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the program is our source of food: 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 the thousands of pounds of great food that are left over AFTER taking what FAF needs to prepare wholesome healthy meals, and gives it away to folks who need it. Distribution happens at what we call our “Free Market”: 611 Clark Ave (First Christian Church). Because the food is perishable, we collect it and give it away at regular distributions – distributions are at 4:45 to 5:30 PM every Monday and Thursday at First Christian Church, and 10:00 to 10:30 on Saturday mornings.

Get Involved

There are several ways to get involved at Food at First:

  • Volunteer Sign-up for a volunteer shift, or see which meals already being hosted by groups.
  • Donate –  click donate or click the donate button –>
  • Like or Follow Food at First on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter
  • Subscribe – find the “Email Subscription” box at the top of the right column of this page, type your email address into the box, and click “Sign me up!”

More Info

You can find out more about the program through our coverage in the media, and a history of Food At First. There is also an online memorial of one of our beloved young chefs who passed much too soon. Finally, if you are a professor/teacher who is assigning community service to your students, please see our guidelines.

Please contact us if you have any questions that are not answered here on our website! Thank you for caring about those in need in our community!

Food at First Head Chef and group volunteer calendar

“This institution is an equal opportunity provider.”  For more info here


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