Category Archives: Program Updates

CWA helps winter food distribution season to strong close

Members of Communication Workers of America (CWA) Local 2001 donated around 25,000 pounds of food during the final five weeks of the United Food Operation (UFO) winter food distribution program. This massive influx of food allowed the program to end its seasonal distribution on a positive note.

CWA members
CWA members and some to the food they donated to United Food Operation during the final month of the 2017 campaign.

UFO had feared that it would not get through its 12-week food distribution season this year without severe cutbacks in food quantity toward the end. The CWA donations kept that from happening.

UFO chairperson Elaine Harris lauded the efforts of the CWA members.

“It made a huge difference.,” Harris said.

The CWA members, who are employed by Frontier Communications in the Charleston WV area, performed all kinds of fundraising strategies on and off the workplace. Then, they vigorously shopped sales at area grocery chains to stretch every dollar to its maximum and also to obtain some matching donations and extra discounts from the stores.

CWA donations filled the warehouse

Joe Gresham, manager of UFO’s warehouse, said it was amazing and inspirational to see the food roll in. CWA brought in 28 pallets loaded with about 43,000 food items. Gresham said the CWA food allowed the UFO program to end this year in the black.

Representatives of the 12 local food pantries supported by UFO said the extra food was so welcomed. They were especially appreciative that CWA took the time to find out the items most needed by the pantries before they went shopping. This ensured that the items donated would not go to waste.

We love our volunteers. Thank you.

UFO volunteers, April 1, 2017

United Food Operation is blessed with so many great people and businesses donate who so freely donate of their time and money. We could always use more, but the ones we have are golden.

Beyond the CWA members, some volunteer stars of last weekend include Girl Scout Troop 2384 of Dunbar, WV; forklift operator Jerry Miller of SGS  Petroleum Services; and MH Equipment of Cross Lanes, WV that donated the use of the forklift for the season. These are the kinds of efforts that make all the difference.

Girl Scout volunteers UFO 2017
Volunteers from Girl Scout Troop 2384 in Dunbar, WV, prepare to help load pantry trucks with the food donated by CWA Local 2001.

Volunteer Jerry Miller, and forklift
Volunteer Jerry Miller, who is employed by SGS Petroleum Services, worked every weekend of the 12-week 2017 food distribution period. Use of the forklift was donated by MH Equipment of Cross Lanes, WV.



Bid Away Hunger event set

Bid Away Hunger

Come join us for an afternoon of fun while we raise money to fight hunger in Kanawha & Putnam counties. All proceeds will go to purchase food for 12 local community food pantries.

We will have games, prizes, and a Silent Auction.


Louie’s Lounge
Mardi Gras Casino & Resort
Cross Lanes, WV

Entry fee: $5
Games can be played for a small donation.
Cash bar wil be available.
Light snacks & entertainment provided.

The Silent Auction will include items from:

  • Mardi Gras Casino
  • Auto Zone
  • Embassy Suites
  • South Charleston Community Center
  • Pittsburgh Pirate game package w/parking
  • Four Points Sheraton
  • Comedy Zone Dinner Package
  • South Charleston Memorial Ice Arena
  • Mary Kay
  • Little Creek Golf
  • Kroger
  • Sabika
  • Electric Beach
  • Home Depot
  • and many more

For more information call Misti at 304-419-1672 or Karen at 304-552-8103 or send email to .

2017 food distribution and kick-off set

The 2017 United Food Operation (UFO) food distribution program will kickoff on Friday, January 13 at 11:00 A.M. and run through April 1, announced Elaine Harris, chairperson of the group.

Volunteers from St. Albans Food Pantry
Volunteers from the St. Albans Food Pantry are among the many who donate their time to United Food Operation. Donations are needed to help feed the needy this winter.

The 12 UFO participating food pantries are all experiencing increased needs this season, so the organization expects to use all the help it can get this year.

“I am asking everyone to come to the United Food Operation warehouse for the kickoff program on Jan. 13 at 11:00 A.M. and bring monetary and food contributions,” said Harris. “Also, reach out to other companies and organizations and invite them to drop by with a contribution.”

Since 1982, UFO raises funds around the year and uses them each winter to purchase bulk foods needed by community food pantries around Kanawha and Putnam counties. Food is distributed to the pantries on Saturdays for 12 weeks each winter.

Pictured L to R are Joe Davenport, Clifford Means, and Andy Altman.
Volunteers from local industry ensure that United Food Operation gets the food to the pantries.

To support feeding needy people in our community, area businesses can collect funds or food during the winter season and UFO will take care of getting food to the community food pantries. UFO charges no overhead on monetary contributions. All the funds go to support food distributions in the Kanawha Valley area.

ICL Group donates to United Food Operation
UFO Chairperson Elaine Harris accepts a donation from ICL Group, ( formerly known as Clearon) represented by John Kadlec, Director of Operations, South Charleston plant.

United Food Operation is an all-volunteer group that operates as a 501c(3) charitable organization. No salaries are paid and the group runs with donated labor and equipment out of donated warehouse space at the Institute Industrial Park. Dow Chemical Company maintains the warehouse facility on behalf of the group. Founded in 1981, the group conducted its first winter season food distribution program in 1982. This winter will be the 36th annual food distribution.

Pantry reps see greater need coming in Winter 2017

Food pantry representatives who participate in United Food Operation (UFO) gathered recently at Dow’s Institute plant to plan this winter’s assault on hunger.  The consensus is they are seeing lots of new faces at their pantries this year, so they need to double down to get through the winter. Continue reading Pantry reps see greater need coming in Winter 2017

Breakfast date set for April 2

The annual United Food Operation volunteer appreciation breakfast  is set for Saturday, April 2 at 8:30 AM. The breakfast will be served at the United Food Operation headquarters in Institute, WV.

UFO breakfast
Breakfast is served

A traditional West Virginia menu of eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits, gravy, jellies, coffee, juice, and milk will be served. All UFO and food pantry volunteers are invited to attend free of charge. Those interested should RSVP to Nancy Grist at or 304-342-2023 by Monday, March 28.

Following breakfast, a short organizational meeting will be held, during which volunteers will be recognized. All food UFO & pantry staff, volunteers, and board members are invited.

At the end of the meeting, participating pantries will pick up their loads of food as usual. The event will wrap up the 2016 UFO winter food distribution program.

The next UFO activity will be the National Association of Letter Carriers annual food drive on Saturday, May 14. Volunteers are needed.

Open house held, donations received

Community members got a first look at the new headquarters of United Food Operation (UFO)  Saturday during an open house in Institute.

United Food Operation recognizes contributors and volunteers
The Open House included a formal program to recognize major contributors and volunteers.

UFO Chairperson Elaine Harris expressed the groups gratitude to Dow Chemical and Bayer CropScience for their generous donations, which led to UFO basically being given the newly renovated building through a very favorable lease. Surveying the completely remodeled facility, Harris remembered times in years gone by when UFO had to work out of less than optimum space.

“This is a wonderful space—UFO hasn’t always had it so good,” she said, recalling years when they had to move pallets of food around because of leaks in the roof and other times having to work out of basically unheated space in the middle of the winter.

Connie Stewart, center, and Cliff Means present a check for $20,000 dollars from Bayer CropScience to support United Food Operation programs. Receiving the check is UFO Chairperson Elaine Harris.
Connie Stewart, center, and Cliff Means present a check for $20,000  from Bayer CropScience to support United Food Operation programs. Receiving the check is UFO Chairperson Elaine Harris.

For most of the past decade Bayer CropScience had provided the group use of a good building for food distribution that was located about 150 yards west of the current building. But with Bayer selling much of its Institute Industrial Park space to Dow Chemical last year, the former building’s lot was targeted for other uses and the building scheduled for demolition.

Dow, Bayer work together to help UFO

Andy Altman, center, explains Dow Chemical Company's support for United Food Operation by providing the building, including all maintenance and utilities.
Andy Altman, center, explains Dow Chemical Company’s support for United Food Operation by providing the building, including all maintenance and utilities. Left to right are Joe Davenport, a contract employee at Dow and UFO board member; Altman; and UFO Chairperson Elaine Harris.

Knowing that would force UFO to find other facilities, the two companies set about solving the problem. During the transition period, Dow and Bayer got together and identified another building at the very northeast corner of the industrial park that would be good for UFO’s use, but it needed a lot of clean-up and renovation.

Dow agreed to lease the building to UFO at a most favorable $1/year, and Bayer agreed to take the lead on renovating the building to prepare it for UFO’s use. Working together, the two firms  did a great job on a relatively short timeline. United Food Operation was able to take possession of the building before the end of 2015.

United Food Operation headquarters and distribution center at the Institute Industrial Park.
The new United Food Operation headquarters and food distribution center at the Institute Industrial Park. Leaders say it’s the best space the group has ever had.

The building turned out to be the best space UFO has ever had. It has its own private access off Rt. 25 and a totally fenced lot. Inside, the building has warehouse space, a conference/break room, an office, and a bathroom—all kept toasty warm with a good heating system, The cleaned-up, repaired, and freshly painted facility is now the pride and joy of the group.

Dunbar Mayor Terry Greenly (center) expresses his support for the work of United Food Operation to UFO's Elaine Harris. With Greenly is Dunbar Councilman Steve Arnott.
Dunbar Mayor Terry Greenlee (center) expresses his support for the work of United Food Operation to UFO’s Elaine Harris. With Greenlee is Dunbar Councilman Steve Arnott.

Mayor Terry Greenlee, from the neighboring city of Dunbar, stopped by and welcomed folks to his part of the county. He expressed his appreciation the work of United Food Operation. He was accompanied by Dunbar Councilman Steve Arnott, who has long been a UFO supporter.

The contributions of Frontier Communication are recognized by UFO's Elaine Harris. On left is XXX ZZZZZZ of Frontier's West Virginia operations.
The contributions of Frontier Communications are recognized by UFO . At left is Cheryl Black of Frontier’s West Virginia operations with Elaine Harris.

Telecommunications companies have long been core contributors to United Food Operation, providing many thousands of dollars in support through the years. Cheryl Black of  Frontier Communications told the group about the company’s efforts this year to raise funds for UFO in cooperation with members of the Communications Workers of America. Contributions from the local unit of Verizon were also acknowledged.

Other contributions acknowledged today were those from Clearon’s South Charleston plant, Chemores of Belle, and IVS Hydro of Institute.

Noble Pickens honored for his years of service

This year's food drive is dedicated to Noble Pickens. Following his retirement from industry, this Dunbar resident worked tirelessly for UFO, helping run things at the warehouse.
This year’s food drive is dedicated to Noble Pickens. Following his retirement from industry, this Dunbar resident worked tirelessly for UFO, helping run warehouse operations.

Harris announced that the 2016 food drive was dedicated to Noble Pickens of Dunbar.  For many years Pickens was a loyal volunteer, who took a lead role in purchasing food and managing distributions to the participating pantries. Recently, his health has greatly limited his volunteer time with the group.

Another food distribution weekend

Volunteers from St. Albans Food Pantry
Volunteers from St. Albans Community Food Pantry

On Friday morning, volunteers provided by the St. Albans Community Food Pantry prepared the pallets of food so they could be distributed to the pantries on Saturday.

Volunteers from SGS Petroleum Services, Institute
Volunteers from SGS Petroleum Services, Institute, with the WQBE rabbit.

On Saturday morning, before the Open House, the second weekly food distribution of the season was conducted. This week, UFO is indebted to the volunteers who came from SGS Petroleum Services at the Institute  Industrial Park.

Each week, different organizations takes responsibility for recruiting and supplying volunteers needed to perform food sorting on Fridays and loading the pantry trucks on Saturdays.

United Food Operation board members
United Food Operation board members line up for the record.

The program has 10 more weeks of food distributions in it’s winter program this year. In May, it will handle food distributions for the Postal Workers Food Drive. All funds donated this winter will go to provide additional food to the weekly food distributions.


First Distribution-Saturday of 2016 for United Food Operation

The first distribution-Saturday of the 2016 season went like clockwork at United Food Operation’s new warehouse facility. Food distributions will continue over the next 12 weeks.

United Food Operation Jan-9-2016 - 1

It was still foggy at 8:00 A.M. when UFO volunteers began receiving the pantry vehicles at the organization’s new warehouse and headquarters at Institute Industrial Park. Continue reading First Distribution-Saturday of 2016 for United Food Operation

United Food Operation works out of new distribution center

Jan8-2016 - 1The United Food Operation, Inc. 2016 food distribution season has officially begun. This morning at 8:00 A.M., volunteers from the Nitro Food Pantry joined UFO volunteer staff at the program’s new facility to sort food destined for area food pantries. Continue reading United Food Operation works out of new distribution center

2016 program dates and open house set

The 2016 United Food Operation, Inc. winter food distribution program will begin on January 8 and conclude on April 2 at a new distribution warehouse facility in Institute, WV.

Dow Chemical Company has donated a new and improved warehouse space for UFO to use at the Institute Industrial Park — in a part of the park that Dow recently purchased from Bayer CropScience. Over the past few months the facility, which is located across Route 25 from the Institute Post Office, was extensively renovated by Bayer Crop Science to prepare it for UFO’s use.

“We couldn’t be more pleased with our new  space,” said Elaine Harris, UFO chair person  “Our thanks go out to Bayer and Dow for their generous donations. This means so much to us.”

The building has a conference room and office in addition to ample food storage and distribution space. The renovations included fence line modifications to allow for a separate entrance off Route 25, minor reconstruction, electrical modifications, painting, and the installation of new tile and ceiling for a conference room area. Also included is the donation of conference room furniture, chairs, refrigerator and microwave for the conference room area. [Link to directions and map]

To recognize Bayer CropScience and Dow for their donations and to familiarize the community with the new space, UFO will hold an open house and fundraiser there on Saturday, January 16 from 10:00 A.M. until noon.

“For many years we have relied on many of the plants and companies here in the Kanawha Valley that have now downsized,” said Elaine Harris. “Therefore, in order for us to survive and to continue to supply food to the pantries in Kanawha and Putnam counties, we have to solicit new partners.”

The 2016 winter program will mark the 34th year of UFO food distributions. During the annual program period, the group provides weekly distributions of much-needed foodstuffs—free-of-charge—to 12 independent food pantries located throughout Kanawha and Putnam counties.

For more information on UFO volunteer opportunities or the upcoming open house, call 304-342-2023  (8:00 am – 4:00 pm, Monday–Friday).

Organization meeting set

United Food Operation, Inc. will hold the organizational meeting for its 2016 campaign on Thursday, December 10. The meeting will be hosted by Dow Chemical Company at its Institute, WV facility.

At the meeting, the dates for the 2106 Winter Food Distribution Program will be announced. UFO will also disclose the new location of its food distribution center.

The group had to move from its former space following the repurposing of the building in which it was located after Bayer CropScience sold the property earlier this year. The UFO board expressed their gratitude to Bayer for its generous support over the past decade. UFO is thankful to have had the use of the BayerCropScience warehouse space for those many years.

As part of the meeting agenda, representatives of the participating food pantries will help UFO leaders assess the current need for food in the region. UFO anticipates a strong demand for food this winter given the region’s weak economy and high unemployment. Plans for fundraising will also be discussed.

For additional information on the meeting, please call 304-342-2023.