Free Meal

Daily Free Meal

Everyone invited, no questions asked.

Food at First hasn’t missed a meal in a decade! The Daily Free Meal is carry-out and can be picked up outside in the parking lot at 611 Clark Ave (West side of First Christian Church). Thank you for your patience during this time.

Free Meal Times

5:45 pm – 6:15 pm
5:45 pm – 6:15 pm
5:45 pm – 6:15 pm
5:45 pm – 6:15 pm
5:45 pm – 6:15 pm
5:45 pm – 6:15 pm
11:30 am – 12:15 am

Our major focus is to help those who are not able to simultaneously meet their basic needs of food and shelter. There are many reasons people attend. Maybe you are lonely, or can’t manage today’s meal for some reason, or maybe you have no reason at all. Join Food at First for a free delicious well balanced hot meal. Everyone is Welcome.


Food at First is located in the First Christian Church, back door, lower level, 611 Clark, Ames, Iowa 50010. Look for the Food at First van usually parked near the Food at First door.

Where does all this food come from? Food for the Food at First meal program is gleaned almost entirely from unsalable (but still very edible!) product that would otherwise be thrown away.  Read about our gleaning program.

Meal Volunteers

Two shifts of workers prepare the meals and serve / clean up after the meals everyday. Anyone 5th Grade, 10 years or older is welcome to sign up for a volunteer position.

Food at First would love to have you join our team! Over 1000 people volunteer annually. It doesn’t matter how much experience you have or don’t have. Our volunteers have fun serving together and there are always experienced volunteers to help if you have questions!

Meal Volunteer Shifts

It is very important that all volunteers arrive on time to their scheduled shifts.

Sun, Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri meal prep shift – 3:00 – 5:00 pm

Sun, Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri serve/clean shift – 5:00 – 7:00 PM

Sat meal prep shift 9:00 – 11:00 AM

Sat serve/clean shift 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Food at First serving line April 24 2019 with 7 volunteers
Evening meal served by awesome volunteers Apr 24 2019

Meal Volunteer Groups

Group Sign Up

Check the calendar (click button below) to see what dates volunteers are needed. Please figure out 2-3 dates that work for your group and email 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.

Organizations and congregations who prepare and serve meals are encouraged to contribute whatever they feel is appropriate in terms of monetary donations, but there is no requirement to contribute financially in order to participate in the Food At First meals.

Head Chef

Food at First has a volunteer head chef for every meal. The head chef is a very special volunteer position, in charge of the planning, creating, preparing and serving a well balanced hot meal on time as well as keeping the 16 meal volunteers organized, busy, and on track. It takes some special skills to be a head chef. It’s not all about cooking, it’s about community, having fun, being creative, being an organized leader, and serving. If you think you fit the criteria and have the mustard needed, pun intended, please contact Patty Yoder.

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