I'm new to all this, but my five chicks took out the starter kit from Tractor Supply in about three days. I leave the feeder in the brooder and just keep it full. I figure they eat when they get hungry.
Yes, they should have free access to food. They will demolish the food at an astounding rate, but they also will waste quite a bit if you don't take steps. I would elevate the feeder so the openings are about shoulder-height. Also, if you put the feeder on something like paper towels, then they can see the feed they've spilled better and may clean it up.