If you can’t find your answer here please email patty@foodatfirst.com.

I am interested in helping.  What should I do?

Click sign up to find open Food at First volunteer shifts. If all of the slots are full, please check again soon. New dates are frequently added.

WhEN and Where Can i drop off donations?

Sun, Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri 3pm – 7:00 pm and Sat morning is best as volunteers are always on site at

Food at First, 611 Clark Ave, Ames, IA 50010 at the West Entrance. Make sure they are marked “Food At First“. Doors are locked during the pandemic, call the HELP line 515-344-HELP (4357) a volunteer will assist.

What is the minimum age for volunteers?

Anyone 5th Grade or 10 years or older is welcome to sign up for a volunteer position! A parent or adult should volunteer along side anyone age 10 to 13.

I signed up to volunteer and I have a conflict and need to cancel.

If you cannot serve your shift, please remove yourself from your shift. You may cancel up to 24 hours before your shift.

How to cancel: Go to FoodatFirst.com, click Login to login into the volunteer system. Click “Remove”. If you need to cancel within 24 hours of your shift, please email patty@foodatfirst.com your full name, the date you cannot serve and which shift to cancel. 

If you forgot your shift please let Food at First know. Food at First removes volunteers from the volunteer system who do not contact Food at First after missing 2 shifts.

I signed up, now what?

Please arrive a few minutes early for your shift and TimeClock in. Food at First is located at 611 Clark, Ames Iowa, lower level. Food at First is FUN and runs smoothly if everyone pitches in and works hard, stays happy and motivated, and works the entire shift. If you are new you can ask others who have volunteered before “what can I do next?”.

Can I bring my friend or relative who has not signed up for a shift?

We encourage you to have your friends and relatives sign up for a shift and volunteer with you, but please do not bring extra volunteers who have not signed up. Food at First has carefully calculated how many volunteers are needed for each shift and it is important for Food at First to have a record of volunteers.

I don’t see any open spots on the volunteer sign-up. I am taking a class which requires community volunteer time, I need to serve soon. What should I do?

Food at First often has other “less glamorous” jobs that could be filled, such as defrosting freezers, mopping floors or deep cleaning. Please email patty@foodatfirst.com, let us know your deadline and when you might be available. Food at First encourages teachers/professors to have students check as far in advance as possible, we all have a tendency to wait until the last minute. If there are no slots open, then Food at First really does not need help for that shift.

We have a group who would like to volunteer – how do we sign up?

We encourage groups to volunteer. It is a great way to get to know each other and serve the community at the same time!

  1. Look at the monthly calendar (click on the arrows in the upper left corner of the calendar to check future dates).
  2. Figure out 2-3 dates that work for your group and email patty@foodatfirst.com with the dates you are available, number of volunteers, and organization you are affiliated with (if applicable). Please include Volunteer Group on the subject line.
  3. You should expect a reply within a week – if you do not see one, please feel free to email again.

What do the letters on the monthly calendar mean?

HC stands for Head Chef.  Prep is the preparation shift, and S/CU stands for Serve / Clean Up.  If there are letters after these words, they are the initials of the group who is hosting the meal (for instance, CPC = Collegiate Presbyterian Church.)  Details about the shifts are on the meal program page.

It looks like all of the dates in the near future on the Opportunity calendar are taken.  Can we still help with an upcoming meal?

Check back regularly as spots open up if someone has to cancel their shift. Shifts are open month by month so check back towards the end of the month to sign up for a shift.