Tag Archives: food charity

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.

 

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

Letter Carriers Food Drive set for May 9

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National Association of Letter Carriers, Branch 531, will lead this years food drive in the Charleston WV region.

This year’s National Association of Letter Carriers (NACL) annual food drive will take place on Saturday, May 9. United Food Operation (UFO) will again assist the letter carriers with unloading food at the downtown Charleston postal center.

UFO needs volunteers to help at the downtown post office from 1:00 PM until around 6:00 PM.

Volunteers are needed to help out on May 9.
Volunteers are needed to help out on May 9 at the downtown postal center.

NACL uses United Food Operation to distribute the donated food to food pantries around the Kanawha Valley.  UFO will truck the donated food from the Charleston post office to its  distribution center at the Institute Industrial Park. At the warehouse the food will be divided into portions for each of the 12 participating food pantries in Kanawha and Putnam counties. The pantries will then pick up the food and use it to help with their missions.

Volunteer Contact

Those wishing to volunteer should contact Nancy Grist at ngrist@cwa-union.org or may call her at 304-342-2023 no later than May 1. Volunteers should plan to work at least a two-hour shift between 1:00 and 6:00 PM on May 9. Volunteers should be able to lift boxes weighing from 15 to 25 pounds. Food and soft drinks will be provided.

Volunteers will be working in the post office loading dock area, which is entered off Washington Street E., across the street from the Best Western Charleston Plaza Hotel.

Winter Food Drive Ends with a Flurry

 

snow flurry at United Food Operation
Typical for the this year’s distribution days, a snow flurry hits the United Food Operation warehouse early Saturday morning on the final day of the winter food distribution program.

Winter snow flurries couldn’t stop the flurry of activity as the final day of the 2015 winter food distribution program took place at United Food Operation, Inc. (UFO). The winter campaign ended March 28 with a group breakfast for volunteers and food pantry workers.

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Volunteers sorted food and loaded trucks as usual. A large group showed up for the final day of the winter program.

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“I want to thank everyone for their work this winter,” said Elaine Harris, UFO chairwoman.  “I am constantly encouraged by all the people who contribute their time and money to our effort.”

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Among this year’s contributions, Harris mentioned the work of the Communications Workers of America and Frontier Communications Corp., who really came through with big time support that helped the campaign end on a very positive note.

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The program distributed packaged food to 12 independent food pantries in Kanawha and Putnam counties for 12 weeks of the winter season. This is the time of year during which food pantries experience increased need as people’s heating bills peak, leaving less in the family budget for food purchases.

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UFO is an all-volunteer operation. It pays no salaries or contracted employees. It operates from donated warehouse space provided by Bayer CropScience at the Institute Industrial Park. All the funds individuals donate to the organization go to purchase and distribute food.

Noble Pickens: a volunteer supreme

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Noble Pickens, sitting, receives gifts of  a fishing rod and reel in appreciation for his many years of volunteer service to UFO.

The organization honored Noble Pickens for his many years of volunteer service to the group. Noble has long served as the warehouse coordinator, managing both food purchases and distributions for the program. United Food Operation could not be successful it it weren’t for folks like Noble who have spent countless hours through the years working to help those less fortunate. UFO is so indebted to him and other long-term volunteers who make the group go.

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The next organization activity will be assisting with the Letter Carriers Food Drive in May. Letter carriers in the Charleston, WV, region use UFO to distribute the donated food to local food pantries.

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As UFO closes the door on another winter food distribution season, plans are already being made for next year. Volunteers are always needed for fundraising and food collection activities. For information call Elaine Harris at (304) 342-2023.

2015 food drive, distributions under way

On January 9, United Food Operation, Inc. (UFO) began its 33rd season of supplying food to 12 community food pantries in Kanawha and Putnam counties of West Virginia.

Sylvia JonesUFO Chairwoman Elaine Harris announced the start of the group’s winter food drive at the kickoff event. This year’s food drive is dedicated in honor of Sylvia Mae Jones, who was formerly a receptionist at Bayer CropScience and a long-time supporter of UFO.

The meeting took place at Charleston’s Mountain Mission, which is one of the food pantries that benefits from the UFO program. Fund raising activity heated up fast as several donations were received from area work systems. Bayer Corp., ICL Group, and Dupont all stepped up to provide significant support for this year’s campaign.

Bayer Corp donates to United Food Operation
Bayer Corp. makes a much needed donation to support United Food Operation’s 2015 food drive. Pictured are, from left, Cliff Means, UFO Vice Chairman and Bayer CropScience employee; UFO’s Elaine Harris; and Connie Stewart, QSHE Manager, Bayer CropScience, Institute plant.

United Food Operation depends on the caring and generosity of workers and companies around the Kanawha Valley to provide the funds needed to fight hunger in the region. UFO is an all volunteer operation, with no salaries, and operates out of donated warehouse space at Institute, WV.

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

Because UFO operates with almost no overhead, all the funds it raises in the annual food drive can go toward purchasing food, which it then supplies to the community food pantries free of charge.

Dupont donation to United Food Operation, Inc.
Dupont shows its unity with the UFO 2015 campaign by making a welcomed donation of funds. Pictured from left to right are Jim O’Connor, plant manager, Dupont Belle Works; Pam Valentine, UFO volunteer and DuPont retiree; and UFO’s Elaine Harris.

Each Saturday from January through March, food pantry vehicles arrive at the UFO warehouse located in the Institute Industrial Park, to pick up a free load of packaged foods. This food is a big help to the pantries that are often strapped to meet the large need they find in their communities.

Senator Chris Walters supports United Food Operation efforts.
State Senator Chris Walters (at right) attended the program kickoff to show his support for the efforts of food pantries to feed the hungry. Also pictured are UFO’s Joseph Davenport and Elaine Harris.

United Food Operation receives support from a variety of employers and individuals around Kanawha and Putnam counties. Elaine Harris emphasized that more support is needed this season in order for the group to meets its goals. Business or individuals wishing to help can contact Harris at 304-342-2023.

 

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.

Letter Carriers food drive a big help

LCFD15Around the region, the annual Letter Carriers food drive on May 10 netted over 50,000 pounds of donated food that will be distributed to West Virginia food pantries.

At the main post office in Charleston dozens of United Food Operation, Inc. (UFO) volunteers turned out to unload food from postal trucks and move it to the waiting UFO tractor trailer. A rainy day did not dampen the spirits of the volunteers nor of the members of the National Association Letter Carriers (NALC) Local 531, as approximately 21,000 pounds of food donated by postal patrons was received and reloaded at this site.

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It takes a lot of volunteers to pull off a day like this and Charleston area organizations were very generous. Those offering volunteers included the Communication Workers of America,  Local 2001; American Federation of Teachers, Putnam County Local 4639; Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club, Charleston Chapter; National Association of Letter Carriers, Local 531; Charleston Professional Fire Fighters, IAFF Local 317;  Heart and Hand of South Charleston; International Association of Machinists, Local 656; International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 175; International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 132; United Food Operation, Inc.; WV AFL-CIO; and the WV Governor’s Office.

Governor proclaims Letter Carrier Food Drive Day in WV
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin proclaimed May 10, 2014 as Letter Carriers Food Drive day. in the photo, Governor’s Office representative Jason Williams presents a copy of the proclamation to Tim McKay, official of Letter Carriers Local 531.

With the day having been proclaimed by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin as Letter Carriers Food Drive Day,  the large haul of donated food will be spread among pantries around south central and western West Virginia. The 21,000 pounds of  food given to United Letter Carriers Food Drive 2014Food Operation will be shared with the 13 pantries it supports in Kanawha and Putnam counties. This food will be an immediate help to those in need in the Kanawha Valley.

** Click on the photos to view enlargements of our volunteers **

Letter Carriers Food Drive 2014
Buffalo Soldiers MC, Charleston WV Chapter
Letter Carriers Food Drive 2014
This great group came from AFT Putnam County.
Letter Carriers Food Drive 2014
The West Virginia Army National Guard picked up food from out lying postal centers and brought it to the downtown office.
Professional Fire Fighters from Charleston, WV.
Professional Fire Fighters from Charleston, WV. Charleston Fire Fighters are regular volunteers with UFO on Friday morning’s each winter.
Letter Carriers Food Drive 2014
(L to R) David Mullins of IUOE Local 132,, his wife Ekta, and Todd Mullins, president of the Kanawha Valley Labor Council.
Letter Carriers Food Drive 2014
Don Fraley of Teamsters Local 175 drove the tractor and trailer and made two trips back and forth between the post office and the UFO warehouse.
Letter Carriers Food Drive 2014
Members of Communication Workers of America can always be counted on.
This crew of United Food Operation regular volunteers stayed all day.
This crew of United Food Operation regular volunteers stayed all day.
Letter Carriers Food Drive 2014
NALC members and volunteers.
Letter Carriers Food Drive 2014
NALC members and volunteers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Details of the day

IMG_2952Postal delivery trucks arrive at the post office at the end of their day bringing back the donated food they have collected from postal patrons.

 

 

Letter Carriers Food Drive 2014The donated food is loaded into large dump bins by United Food Operation volunteers.

 

 

Letter Carriers Food Drive 2014Once these dump bins are filled they are moved over to the weighing area.

 

 

Letter Carriers Food Drive 2014

Each bin is placed on the scale and weighed.

 

 

Letter Carriers Food Drive 2014Full bins typically weigh in the area of 800-900 pounds.

 

 

 

Letter Carriers Food Drive 2014Bins are then loaded into the UFO trailer and hauled to the UFO warehouse in Institute.

 

 

Letter Carriers Food Drive 2014This tractor and trailer was provided, at no cost to United Food Operation, by Yellow Freight. This is the kind of contribution that allows UFO to put all the funds it raises toward buying food.  We thank Yellow Freight and all the others who made this successful day possible.

UFO will now distribute all the food donated from the Letter Carriers drive to its participating local food pantries . With the completion of this project, 2014 UFO distributions season will come to a close. Over the summer and fall months UFO will raise the funds needed to kick off its Winter 2015 program, which begins in January.

 

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.

Dupont and Dow commit support

The E.I. Dupont plant at Belle and the Dow facility at Institute Industrial Park have both committed support to United Food Operation’s (UFO) 2013 winter food distribution program.

E.I. Dupont Belle Works donates to United Food Operation
E.I. Dupont’s Pamela Valentine (2nd from right) presents a contribution to UFO chair Elaine Harris (center) to help the 2013 program.

Dupont employee Pamela Valentine, who also serves as secretary for United Food Operation, presented a check for $1,250 to the group at the 2013 campaign organization meeting on Nov. 29, 2012. Employees at the Dupont plant have been long-term supporters of the UFO effort.

Dow’s Institute facility will supply the truck and driver needed to pick up bulk pallets of food and deliver them to the distribution center each Thursday. This will be done weekly for the duration of the 2013 food distribution program.

The bulk pallets are broken down on Fridays by UFO volunteers and reorganized into pallets for each of the 13 participating food pantries. The pantries then pick up the food on Saturday  mornings.

UFO Chair Elaine Harris said the organization couldn’t be nearly as effective without the continuing support of workers and management at local facilities like Dupont and Dow.

“We thank them for all they do,” she said.