Tag Archives: hunger

UFO to begin 2015 food distribution program January 9

UFO meeting 11-12-14
United Food Operation Chairperson Elaine Harris leads the discussion, as program volunteers and community food pantry representatives brainstorm on enhancing the 2015 winter food distribution program.

Many ideas were contributed as United Food Operation, Inc. (UFO)  held its organization meeting for the 2015 winter food distribution season. With the treasurer’s report showing the group will begin the 2015 program season with about $8,000 less than last year, much of the discussion centered on fundraising.

“We understand money is tight, but still there are those who need our help,” said Elaine Harris, UFO chairperson as she expressed the group’s commitment to find more resources.

The organization will conduct its 33rd annual food distribution program from January 9 to March 28, 2015.  The program helps 12 local food pantries in Kanawha and Putnam counties get through the tough winter months.

It was determined that UFO needs to raise an additional $36,000 between now and the end of March if it is to maintain the same level of support  it provided food pantries last year.

Each year, United Food Operation program provides additional food to the pantries during a 12-week winter-to-spring period — a time during which many families struggle with high heating bills that cut into their food budgets. UFO provides this support to the pantries  at no cost to them.

The 2015 program will again operate out of space donated by Bayer CropScience at the Institute Industrial Park.

“We really appreciate Bayer’s providing us warehouse distribution space for the upcoming year,” Harris said. “They have been so generous through the years. I don’t know where we’d be without them.”

The 2015 distribution center will be located next door to the building that has been used the past several years. The former distribution center building is scheduled for demolition as the industrial park continues to experience changes and redevelopment.

United Food Operation meeting
Pantry representatives and UFO volunteers discuss the upcoming United Food Operation program season, which begins January 9, 2015.

Food pantry representatives at the meeting included those from Five Loaves–Two Fish, Poca; Nitro Community Services; EnAct, Inc, which operates in Clendenin, Montgomery and Chesapeake; Christian Community Cupboard, Hurricane; Covenant House, Charleston; Mountain Mission, Charleston; Sissonville Community Food Pantry; The Salvation Army, Charleston; and St. Albans Community Food Pantry. Representatives from Heart and Hand of South Charleston were unable to attend the meeting but will also participate again this winter.

United Food Operation, Inc. is a total volunteer operation with no paid staff and operates out of donated warehouse and office space. All donations it receives from the public go to purchase food.

WQBE Radio honored

WQBE honored
Charleston radio station WQBE was honored Saturday by the United Food Operation for its support of food charity programs. Pictured from left to right are Al Woody and Jeff Jeffries, both of WQBE; Joseph Davenport and Elaine Harris, both of U.F.O.; and Rick Webb of WQBE.

For its contribution to fighting hunger in the Kanawha Valley,  Charleston radio station WQBE-FM was honored by United Food Operation on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014.

Elaine Harris, chair of U.F.O.,  presented a plaque to WQBE radio personalities Jeff Jeffries and Al Woody for their long term commitment to and support of the United Food Operation that puts food on the shelves of 13 food pantries in Kanawha and Putnam counties.

WQBE honorary plaque
This plaque was presented to WQBE by the United Food Operation on February 22, 2014.

Harris thanked Jeffries and Woody for all they do, and it is a lot. Jeffries and Woody routinely encourage public support for food charities in their regular broadcasts and, for the past three years, have provided a live remote broadcast for United Food Operation events. Their efforts have assisted U.F.O. in raising thousands of dollars used to purchase food that is then provided free-of-charge to 13 food pantries in Kanawha and Putnam counties of West Virginia.

WQBE is a community-spirited station owned and operated by Bristol Broadcasting Company, Inc. It broadcasts its country music format at 97.5 on the FM dial.

United Food Operation readies for 2014 food distribution season

Winter weather has hit the Kanawha Valley with a vengeance, which means it surely must be time again for United Food Operation (UFO) to get down to business. Accordingly, the Charleston-based all-volunteer organization will kick off its 32nd annual food distribution program on January 24 and run it through April 12 this year.

Elaine Harris, who has served as the program chair since its inception in 1981, said UFO will work out of the same distribution center at the Bayer Crop Science facility in Institute that it has been using for several years.

Harris, in a Charleston Daily Mail interview, said times are especially tough this year.

“Donations are down,” she said. “Cupboards are bare. We need sponsors to help bring in food. It’s tax-deductible.”

Numerous area employers support the program but more are needed, Harris said. She explained that, unlike many other food banks, UFO does not charge the pantries for the food it provides them.

“They have enough issues finding the resources to keep operating,” she said. “We just want to help them get over the winter hump.”

Pantry leaders say they are hard pressed in the cold weather season to keep up with the increased demand for their services. Demand is higher in winter months for a number of reasons but the primary one is higher utility bills for heating leave less in the famlly budget for food.

At the Institute distribution center,  UFO volunteers will collect, receive, and sort food on Fridays and distribute it to pantries on Saturday mornings during the 10-week period. Thirteen food pantries in Putnam and Kanawha counties participate in the UFO program.

Participating food pantries for 2014 are:
Christian Community Cupboard in Hurricane; EnAct, Inc. in Chesapeake, Montgomery, and Clendenin; Covenant House of Charleston; Heart and Hand Community Service Center in South Charleston; Nitro Community Services; Pocatalico/Sissonville Community Food Pantry; St. Albans Community Food Pantry; Mountain Mission in Charleston; Salvation Army in Charleston; and Five Loaves/Two Fishes in Poca.

A teleconference call with UFO officers and volunteer leaders will be held Wednesday, January 15, 2014 8:00 AM to discuss plans for the UFO kick off and subsequent pantry distributions for this year.

For more information about how you might help or get involved as a volunteer, call Elaine Harris at 304-342-2023.

2012 drive memorializes “Windy” Withrow

This year’s food drive, Winter Harvest 2012, is dedicated to the memory of Donald “Windy” Withrow.  Back in 1981 Withrow was a co-founder of the United Food Operation and was a tireless volunteer through the years.

A long-time Saint Albans resident, Withrow passed away on December 9, 2011 at age 72. He will be greatly missed by the entire United Food Operation extended family.

Bob Wise with United Food Operation
Windy Withrow, at far left, is shown in this 1983 photo with other United Food Operation volunteers (L to R) Carol Haid, postal worker; Congressman Bob Wise; Kay Taylor, CWA/C&P; Elaine Harris, CWA/C&P; and Dick Dorsey, Laborers #1353/WV Water.

When he helped start United Food Operation, Withrow worked at FMC in South Charleston and was a member of United Steelworkers Local 12625. Then FMC plant manager E.W. “Woody” Wayland provided Withrow the time to help coordinate the budding UFO organization as part of the plant’s support for the organization. Withrow then spent many, many more hours of his own time working on UFO projects over the next decades.