The 2019 Winter Food Distribution Program will run each Saturday from January 12 to March 30, Elaine Harris, chair of United Food Operation (UFO), has announced. The season’s kickoff event will take place on Friday, Jan. 11.
The need for food increases during the winter heating season when higher utility bills tend to put stress on family budgets.
“There is a lot of very generous giving by churches and charities during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season, and that really helps the food pantries get through the end of the year,” Harris explained, “but United Food Operation fills in the rest of the winter when other donations slow down. It’s something we’ve been doing since 1982, and we’ve found it works well and is greatly appreciated by the pantries.”
Food pantries provide an important safety net in our region that is well utilized. Food pantry leaders say they are seeing a lot of people line up at their locations each day they are open. The need for food has been steady. They offer families whatever they can, though the selection of food is often limited. UFO supplies the types of non-perishable food that the pantries need most.
Operating out of its distribution center at the Institute Industrial Park the program will help keep food on the shelves at it 12 participating food pantries in Kanawha and Putnam Counties.
United Food Operation will begin its next set of food distributions to area food pantries in January 2019. The exact dates of the 2019 program will be determined at the group’s annual organizational meeting on Friday, December 21.
United Food Operation (UFO) will again support a group of 12 food pantries in Kanawha and Putnam counties. UFO provides food to the pantries at no charge.
As an all volunteer organization, working from donated warehouse space with donated equipment, UFO has almost no overhead. This allows all the money people donate to go directly to the purchase of food. UFO has been conducting its Winter Food Distribution since 1982.
On Saturday morning, April 7, United Food Operation completed its 12-week winter food distribution program. We will be gearing up again in May for the Letter Carriers “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive. Watch for it on Saturday, May 12.
Help is needed to obtain nice, new donated items for the Bid Away Hunger event on March 25. Donated items will be used as either silent auction items or game prizes.
Bid Away Hunger is a fundraiser held at Louie’s Lounge of Mardi Gras Casino in Cross Lanes, WV. The event includes a silent auction and fun and games for participants. A small admission charge gets you in the door. Hors d’oeuvres will be included and there will be a cash bar. All money raised goes to support food distributions of United Food Operation.
What items are needed?
Event organizer Misti Davis says that just about anything will work. “No item is too big or too small.”
When collecting an item, please obtain the name of donating business/person, person authorizing it, contact number, and retail value of item. Donation acknowledgement thank-you letters will be sent out to the donors.
Davis says you can also collect a few smaller monetary donations and purchase an auction item or buy a few smaller items that can used as game prizes or packaged with other items.
“I have donation letters and flyers I can bring to you,” says Davis. “If there is anyone I can reach out to, let me know.”
“We are on our way to another successful Bid Away Hunger,” said Davis, who is working hard to top last year’s fund raising effort.
United Food Operation completed its first weekend of food distributions for 2018 with a flurry of activity. Activities began Friday and concluded on Saturday.
Early Friday morning, food was sorted into pantry portions with help from a crew of volunteers from the Nitro Food Pantry. Earlier in the week the food was purchased and delivered to the warehouse so it could be sorted. Donated foods are also sorted. The first week’s foods included a large amount of cans and other non-perishable food from a collection conducted by Dutch Miller Auto of South Charleston.
UFO program kicked off Friday morning
Then at 10:00 a.m., Elaine Harris, UFO’s chairperson, and a group of guests and volunteers conducted the winter kick-off ceremony at the warehouse.
This season’s food distribution program was dedicated in honor of Clifford Means, a longtime UFO volunteer who also serves as the group’s vice chair. In recent years, Cliff has been employed as a machinist by Bayer CropScience, Institute Plant, which is closing out its operations at the Institute Industrial Park later this year.
Cliff’s honor was announced by Connie Stewart, a manager at Bayer CropScience. During her tenure, Stewart has also done much to assist the UFO program. Since Bayer began operating in Institute, the company has been a strong supporter of UFO. Along with Dow Chemical, Bayer was instrumental in helping UFO obtain the permanent facility it now uses as its headquarters and food distribution center.
Brian Aluise, of U.S. Senator Joe Manchin’s office, congratulated the group’s efforts on behalf of the Senator. He said UFO’s efforts were greatly appreciated.
Petroleum Services Corp. & MH Rents recognized
Chris Shinault and Andrew Ricks of SGS Petroleum Services Corp. were recognized for their company’s commitment to provide UFO with qualified fork lift operators for the distribution season. MH Equipment of Cross Lanes was thanked for donating the use of a nice forklift. MH Rents also donated the forklift last year.
Local media come out to cover event
Among those attending the ceremony were many United Food Operation volunteers and food pantry workers. Members of the news media were also there to cover the event.
Pantries pick up first bunches of food
On Saturday morning, pantry and UFO volunteers braved the cold, snowy conditions to load up pantry vehicles with donated foods. the 2018 food distribution program was officially underway.
The United Food Operation planning team met at IVS Hydro in Institute, WV, to start organizing the 2018 food drive and distribution program.
The dates for the 2018 campaign are:
Organization Summit with the Pantries: Wednesday, November 24, 2017 at 9:00 AM. Institute Industrial Park, Building 507 Room 202. Call the UFO office for more details: (304) 342-2023
Kickoff Celebration: Friday, January 12
Skip Week: March 30-31
Final Distribution and Thank-You Breakfast: Saturday, April 7
The team decided to host a Bid Away Hunger fundraising auction and party at Mardi Gras Casino again this year. The date will be announced later.
The planning team was encouraged by the over $36,000 already collected and in the bank for the 2018 food distribution program. The group hopes to add another $30,000 to that by the end of the year. Contacts are being made with area businesses who have supported the UFO food drives in the past.
Contributions to the 2018 food drive pay for food that is distributed to 12 food pantries in Kanawha and Putnam counties. As an all volunteer group operating out of donated warehouse space and using donated equipment, UFO uses all the funds donated by employees and businesses to purchase food, not overhead or salaries.
New members of the planning team this year were Misti Davis, Karen Snyder, and Carl Chadband. They all contributed welcomed new energy to the group.
The group heard a report about upgrades to the UFO distribution center. BayerCrop Science has completed painting the warehouse floor and it looks great. Dow Chemical has scheduled repairs and improvements to the rest room facility, which will be finished before the end of the year.
The next planning committee meeting is:
Oct 24, 2017 at 1:00 PM at IVS Hydro in Institute.
It’s late spring and the weather is getting nice. Spirits are up. Flowers are blooming. Plenty of outdoor activities draw your attention. It’s easy to forget that your local food pantry still needs your help.
That’s the beauty of the Stamp Out Hunger food drive conducted by the National Association of Letter Carriers and the United States Postal Service. It’s a poignant reminder at just the right time. This year’s food drive took place on May 13.
The need for food from our pantries has been pretty much at an all time high over the past winter months. The large-scale food resources that supply pantries are not really keeping up with the increased need we’ve seen.
The supply of food from large governmental food banks and national charitable organizations, while important, does not come close to meeting the true need of food pantries in our community. Local pantries depend on the generosity of the local community — of local folks who donate their dollars and canned goods all year around. Without the little people who bring over a few cans of tuna or few dollars they made at a bake sale, many local food pantries would close and many others would barely get by.
Letter Carriers give visibility to need for food
The Letter Carriers annual food drive brings home this point maybe better than any other large event. It communicates the need and says every little bit helps. Every little bit is important. The Letter Carriers reach out to all sectors of the community — urban, suburban and rural areas — to everyone who gets mail. No other food drive has this kind of reach.
And from the efforts of Letter Carriers and their allies, thousands of pounds of food are donated, collected, and then distributed to local food pantries where it is put to use serving the needy in our community. This donated food is a godsend, just ask anyone associated with one of our local food pantries.
UFO thanks our local Letter Carriers
United Food Operation want to sincerely thank members of Local 531 of the National Association of Letter Carriers for another great food drive. Letter Carrier R.D. Henson did a great job in his first year coordinating the program. Thanks also go out to all the other groups that cosponsored or otherwise helped out this wonderful effort.
The National Association of Letter Carriers food drive takes place in the Charleston region this Saturday, May 13. Please don’t forget to fill a bag with food and set it out near your mailbox on Saturday morning.
Arriving in mail boxes all around the region today and tomorrow are brown paper grocery bags designed to be filled with healthy,non-perishable foods and left by your mailbox Saturday morning. Your letter carrier will pick up the bag of food as he or she delivers your mail.
Mine Workers donate grocery bags
Again this year the United Mine Workers of America have donated thousands of brown paper grocery bags. That is a great help to the food drive because past experience has shown that more folks donate food when they have a special bag to put it in. The bags also serve as a reminder to not forget to do it.
United Food Operation manages foods distribution
All the donated food will be delivered back to the central post office by day’s end, where it is loaded into bins and then trucked to the United Food Operation warehouse in Institute. Over the next several days, the food is sorted and made ready for pick up by 12 local food pantries in Kanawha and Putnam counties.
The St. Albans Women of the Moose held a food drive at the Lodge with all food collected going to United Food Operation. The donations were presented to Joe Gresham, UFO’s warehouse manager, from members of Loyal Order of the Moose #868 and the Women of the Moose #857.