Twelve Weeks of 2022 Food Distributions Begin

Elaine Harris addresses volunteers and community leaders at the UFO kickoff.

The 40th year of food distribution began today at the United Food Operation, Inc. (UFO) warehouse in Institute, WV. Six food pantries from Kanawha and Putnam Counties loaded up today with a variety of staple foods at no cost to them. Four more pantries will pick up food Saturday. These are foods that will help serve hundreds of needy families in areas of Kanawha and Putnam counties.

UFO chairperson Elaine Harris said she is so happy to open up the warehouse this year, after it took a COVID year off in 2021. She observed that with the federal pandemic relief payments to families and individuals now completed, local food pantries will likely be seeing a rise in the need for food this winter. Higher heating bills are also expected to put a strain on family budgets.

Harris singled out the program’s landlord, Altivia corporation, for a special thank you for its continuation of the lease for the warehouse space at $1 per year. She said having a regular warehouse space means so much to the program, which in some past years past had to scramble to obtain space to work out of. Finding donated space is also extremely important to the all-volunteer organization so it can continue spending the dollar donations it receives on food.

Others receiving special thanks this winter included MH Equipment of Cross Lanes for donating use of a fork lift.

UFO is tickled to death to have use of this Hyster 50, provided by MH Equipment.

UFO never charges food panties for the food they receive. Over its 40 year history, the program has given local food pantries hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of foods at no cost.

Beyond private donations from employers, union members, and individuals, UFO receives some funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Harris said the FEMA dollars were especially helpful over the past two years when it was difficult to conduct private fundraising drives due to the pandemic. She also lauded the help of Charleston’s Mountain Mission for the assistance it provided last year to UFO food distributions. We couldn’t have done it without them, she said.

Poca WV Mayor William Jones helps fill the truck going to his town’s Five Loaves Two Fish food pantry.


Every Thursday a truckload of food, which has beer ordered earlier in the week, is picked up from Bigley Piggly Wiggly in Charleston and delivered to the UFO warehouse. A crew and truck provided by the Greenwood company of Institute/S. Charleston handle this chore at no charge to UFO. Their donation of this service is very appreciated.

Foods sorted and loaded onto pallets.

Every Friday morning, volunteers sort this food, plus any other that has been donated, and organize it into pallet loads for each participating food pantry.

Every Saturday morning, food pantries pick up their food at the warehouse.

A load of food for Christ’s Kitchen Food Pantry in St. Albans

Food and $ donations sought

UFO is seeking donations to support the winter food distributions. Donations can be made by check through the mail or by credit card on the program website at The more funding it receives, the more food it can purchase for the pantries.

Businesses, organizations, churches, and community groups are encouraged to consider conducting a food and/or fund drive for UFO this winter. Contact Elaine Harris at 304-342-2023 for more information. The 2022 winter program runs through the first week of April.

South Charleston’s Heart & Hand Outreach Ministries receives it load of food.

2022 program kicks off Friday

The 2022 United Food Operation, Inc. (UFO) food drive will officially begin on Friday, January 14, announced Elaine Harris, program chairperson.

“UFO will be marking its 40th year of collecting and distributing food to the participating food pantries,” said Harris. “You are invited to attend the kick off at our UFO warehouse.”

The activities start at 11:00 A.M. with a short program. Representatives of participating food pantries will be in attendance along with invited elected officials from communities in Kanawha and Putnam counties.

The UFO warehouse is located in Institute at the east end of the Altiva Institute Industrial Park. The entrance is directly across Route 25 (Fairlawn Av.) from the Institute Post Office.

On Saturday, following the kickoff, food will begin being distributed to participating food pantries. This activity will continue each Saturday through April 9.

UFO is an independent, all volunteer-staffed, private nonprofit food bank serving Kanawha and Putnam counties

Help UFO on Giving Tuesday

On November 30th, 2021, 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

2020 winter food distribution begins

Supporters help kick off the annual United Food Operation program for 2020.

United Food Operation (UFO) kicked off its 2020 winter food drive and distribution program on Friday. The food distribution will continue through March 28.

A nice turnout of supporters showed up to see this year’s program dedicated in the honor of some key folks, without whom the program would be so much less successful.

Fred Clark, owner of IVS Hydro, was recognized for his contribution to UFO by Elaine Harris.

The individual honored this year is very familiar to food charities around the Kanawha Valley. UFO Chair Elaine Harris said Fred Clark has been so important to the program since he’s been on the Board of Directors. She said Fred works tirelessly, not only to help raise funds for UFO, but he also helps out with other food drives around the community. Fred’s nickname is “The Potato Man” due to his purchase of truckloads of potatoes that he donates to food pantries.

Communications Workers of America, Local 2001, was recognized for its outstanding work on behalf of UFO. Local 2001 Secretary Treasurer Robin Young, center, and VP Susan Adkins, right, accepted the honor on behalf of the CWA Local 2001 membership..

The organization honored this year was Communications Workers of America, Local 2001. Harris recognized Local 2001 for their annual food drives, which they do for UFO. Harris said that in a couple of recent years, when UFO funds ran short at the end of the winter, Local 2001 has come through with loads of food and funds that they raise from their workplaces. It has been a real nice shot in the arm for UFO and the 12 food pantries it serves.

Marissa Skaff, Huntington National Bank WV Region assistant vice president, presents a donation from the bank to UFO Chair Elaine Harris. Chad Prather, president of the WV Region, Huntington National Bank, and Skaff are strong supporters of groups fighting hunger in our region.

An nice donation of $2,500 was received from Huntington National Bank. Two other significant donations of in-kind services were announced at the kick-off. MH Rents donated the use of a forklift vehicle for the food drive season and SGS Petroleum Services is sending a certified forklift operator over each Friday and Saturday mornings to assist with moving pallets of food around the warehouse.

Todd Gunter, field representative for U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, reads a message of support from the senator to United Food Operation..

Messages of support were read from United States Senators Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin. Representatives from food pantries in Kanawha and Putnam counties, West Virginia State University, WV AFL-CIO, local businesses, and mayors from several cities served by UFO affiliated food pantries were on hand to show their support for the program.

As they have done many times before, WQBE-97.5 conducted a live remote from the event led by announcer Jeff Jeffries.

UFO regulars gather prior to the event.
Kick-off day 2020 was a warm one this year.
All the food along this wall was donated through Dutch Miller of Charleston.
Fred Clark is interviewed by a WOWK 13 News reported.

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

Making food distributions in Kanawha and Putnam counties of West Virginia since its founding in June 1981.

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