The current Food At First program began in March 2003 as a Lenten outreach activity of First United Methodist Church (FUMC), in Ames, Iowa.  There was an immediate recognition of the need to expand beyond the season, and meals have been served continuously since that time. Meals were served on Thursday evenings until December of 2004, when St. Cecilia Church members stepped up and began serving a meal every Tuesday. It was at this time that the name was changed to Food At First.

The name, Food At First, communicated two meanings

  • Food was being served at First United Methodist
  • In the beginning, food is what brings people to the programs, but over time what’s essential is community and helping each other move beyond present circumstances

In February 2005, the FUMC Advisory Council agreed to allow expansion of the program to four days per week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday). In March 2006, the FAF conferred with FUMC groups and individuals, and determined that it was practical to add a Sunday night meal to the line-up, at the same time as the other meals. Finally, in October 2008, the FAF Advisory Board decided to add Friday nights to the meal line-up. Food At First moved to its current location at 611 Clark, West Entrance, lower level of the First Christian Church in 2015, where it has served ever since.