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