About Food at First

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

Food at First is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing meals to anyone who is hungry, no questions asked. FAF serves a hot meal every day of the year. Most meals are served in the evening and all meals are served in the lower level of First Christian Church in downtown Ames. FAF also have a food pantry called the Free Market open 3 days a week. Most everything FAF serves would otherwise have been thrown away by local grocery stores and food services. Instead, it all gets turned into wonderful meals for those who are hungry. In 2017 43,000 families came through the Free Market, and 20,000 had meals in the dining hall. Food at First operates on donations from individuals and businesses. These donations go towards FAF cost and space sharing agreement with First Christian Church, equipment repairs, a single paid employee plus cleaning supplies, paper products and other items that are not normally donated.  For each hungry person who walks through the FAF doors costs $1.35. This means $100 could help feed 75 people, WOW!

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, downtown Ames. While the name is similar, Food At First is independent of First Christian Church who generously allows us to rent a good portion of 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 Food at First Head Chefs needs 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 FAF volunteers collect and give away a small grocery store full of Free Market food at 3 weekly regular distributions: 4:45 to 5:30 PM every Monday and Thursday, 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. 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 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

Food at First is an equal opportunity provider.  For more info click here


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