Category Archives: Program Updates

Help UFO on Giving Tuesday

On November 30th this year, United Food Operation is participating in GivingTuesday to bring attention to the great need we have for food in the Kanawha Valley.

Local news reports say Winter 2022 heating bills are set to jump as inflation hits home. Both natural gas and electric utilities in the Kanawha Valley have had rate increases over the past year. These higher utility costs could substantially drive up home heating costs.

Higher home heating costs hit middle income families hard, but affect lower income households the most, relative to their ability to pay. This is where United Food Operation’s food distribution program helps. Providing extra food to needy families this winter, frees up more funds to pay the utility bills.

Please Donate

You can help United Food Operation with its mission by making a donation on GivingTuesday, which is November 30, 2021. Use UFO’s secure online donation platform operated by MightyCause to help bring some relief to families in need in Kanawha and Putnam counties.

Check out our Donations page to see all the ways you can help.

About GivingTuesday

GivingTuesday is a global generosity movement unleashing the power of radical generosity. GivingTuesday was created in 2012 as a simple idea: a day that encourages people to do good. Since then, it has grown into a year-round global movement that inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity.

Join the movement and give – each Tuesday and every day – whether it’s some of your time, a donation, or the power of your voice in your local community.

It’s a simple idea:  whether it’s making someone smile, helping a neighbor or stranger out, showing up for an issue or people we care about, or giving some of what we have to those who need our help, every act of generosity counts and everyone has something to give.

FundRaising continues

Because the need for food never seems to lessen in our community, United Food Operation continues to collect monetary donations during the off year time before it does its annual wintertime food distributions to Kanawha–Putnam County-area food pantries. The 2022 food distribution program is expected to begin in early January 2022.

UFO supports 12 food pantries in the region each year from January to April — the months when the need for resources is highest. By providing extra food during the winter, more resources are freed to assist with other needs, especially for helping pay home heating bills (gas/electric).

Donations needed

If you can make a small or large donation to help with food security in the Kanawha Valley, please do so now. For more information, call Elaine Harris at 304-342-2023.

Donate by check: mail to United Food Operation, PO Box 20441, Charleston, WV 25362

Donate by credit card: use MightyCause

We use the MightyCause donation service because of its ease of use and low cost. It is a great service. You can use MightyCause to securely make a donation to United Food Operation with your Visa, Mastercard, or American Express card.

Donate through United Way: You can designate United Food Operation to receive part or all of your annual United Way contribution. You must write in “United Food Operation Inc, Charleston WV” when you fill out your annual United Way campaign commitment form.

Thank you for your support

Let’s do plenty in 2020

Winter Food Drive Kickoff set for Friday

United Food Operation (UFO) will begin its 38th year of annual wintertime food distributions this Friday, January 10 at 11:00 a.m. The kickoff ceremony takes place at UFO food distribution center in Institute, WV.

UFO Chair Elaine Harris said that Friday’s program will honor one local individual and one local organization for their outstanding support of the organization’s mission through the years. The public is invited to attend the program, which runs for approximately one hour.

UFO annually raises funds with which it purchases food that is distributed free of charge to 12 independent food pantries in Kanawha and Putnam counties. UFO accepts both donations of money and non-perishable foods.

Founded in 1981, United Food Operation has been fighting hunger in the Kanawha Valley with support from working men and women in local industries and government agencies and from many corporations with local operations. Each year, the program distributes food to pantries for a 12-week period in the winter and early spring, which are times of heightened need.

UFO is a totally volunteer-run nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that operates out of donated warehouse space with donated equipment. Its extremely low overhead allows virtually all of the funds it raises to go to the purchase of food.

Donations can be mailed to:

United Food Operation
P. O. Box 20441
Charleston, WV 25362

A look back at the 2019 Kickoff

Last year’s kickoff was highlighted with inspiring words from our keynote speaker United States Senator Joe Manchin. We were pleased to have a big turnout of representatives of local businesses and labor organizations.

Enjoy some photos from last year’s kickoff program.

Senator Joe Manchin addresses the United Food Operation 2019 program kickoff
The 2019 UFO annual program was dedicated in memory of Al Woody.

Thank You Dutch Miller

Dutch Miller of Charleston recently collected non-perishable food as part of a dealership promotion and donated it to United Food Operation.

John Gray of Dutch Miller-Charleston with the food they collected this month.

UFO Vice Chair Cliff Means estimated the total amount of food at 4,000 pounds. Means said this kind support from local businesses is critical to UFO’s mission. Thes food is now safely stored at the UFO warehouse and will be used in this winter’s food distributions.

dutch miller
The donated food loaded onto Cliff Means’ trailer and on its way to the UFO warehouse.

UFO supports 12 independent food pantries in Kanawha and Putnam counties. Dutch Miller operates Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Subaru, and Kia auto dealerships in South Charleston and Charleston.

Help needed for Food Drive, May 11

On May 11, 2019 the National Association of Letter Carriers (NACL) will be collecting food in the Kanawha Valley with their Stamp Out Hunger food drive. United Food Operation will again be partnering with the Letter Carriers to distribute the food they collect to 12 food pantries in Kanawha and Putnam counties.

Continue reading Help needed for Food Drive, May 11

Winter food distribution 2018 comes to end

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.

United Food Operation
Joe Gresham moves the final pallet of food out of the warehouse and outside to the waiting food panty truck.

 

United Food Operation
The Sissonville Food Pantry gets the final pallet of food that wraps up the UFO Winter 2018 food distribution program.

 

United Food Operation
The final cases of food are loaded into the pantry vehicle.

 

United Food Operation
The United Food Operation warehouse is now empty warehouse. All food distributed until the Letter Carriers food drive on May 12.

 

2018 winter food distributions get started

United Food Operation completed its first weekend of food distributions for 2018 with a flurry of activity. Activities began Friday and concluded on Saturday.

Volunteers from the Nitro Food Pantry load pallets.
Volunteers from the Nitro Food Pantry load pallets.

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

Elaine Harris, UFO chairperson United Food Operation 2018
Elaine Harris, UFO chairperson, announces the official start of the winter food distribution.

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.

United Food Operation 2018
Elaine Harris (left), connie Stewart and Cliff Means

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.

Connie Stewart of Bayer Crop Science and Clifford Means
Connie Stewart of Bayer CropScience announces the 2018 program dedication to Cliff Means.

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.

UFO 2018
Brian Aluise of U.S. Senator Joe Manchin’s office speaks at the kick-off.

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

United Food Operation 2018
Standing from left to right are Chris Shinault, Andrew Ricks, Elaine Harris and Joseph Davenport, UFO board member.

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.

United Food Operation 2018
Use of Hyster forklift donated by MH Equipment  (MH Rents)

Local media come out to cover event

United Food Operation 2018
Jeff Jeffries of WQBE-FM interviews Alan Rezek of the St. Albans Food Pantry. Behind them, a reporter for 13 WOWK-TV interviews Elaine Harris.

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.

United Food Operation 2018
UFO and food pantries depend on their volunteers.

Pantries pick up first bunches of food

United Food Operation 2018

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.

United Food Operation 2018

United Food Operation 2018

Planning team sets dates for 2018 campaign

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.

50,000 pounds of donated food is a blessing

Wow. What a great outpouring of support from the people of Kanawha and Putnam counties. Fifty thousand pounds worth.

“Take a look at all this donated food,” says Elaine Harris, UFO’s chairperson. “It’s a wonderful thing.”

The volunteers who make up United Food Operation and its affiliated food pantries are so thankful for the donations made to the Stamp Out Hunger food drive, May 13, 2017,  conducted by members of the National Association of Letter Carriers. Continue reading 50,000 pounds of donated food is a blessing

Food donated through Letter Carriers drive really helps

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.

Volunteers help off-load donated food from Postal Service trucks at the Charleston Post Office.

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

It takes a lot of people to pull this off successfully, but the National Association of Letter Carriers makes it happen.

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

NALC Food Drive Coordinator R D. Henson (at right) with Shannon Nelson at Charleston Main Post Office. In his first year as coordinator, Henson led a very successful food drive.

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.

Postal Service retiree Mack Harris, past president of NALC Local 531. receives a big thank you from United Food Operation Chairperson Elaine Harris for his work on the 2017 Stamp Out Hunger food drive.