Letter carriers, volunteers produce results

Donated food poured into the main Charleston Post Office on Saturday, May 11, as letter carriers and volunteers unloaded the mail delivery vehicles.

United Food Operation (UFO) leader, Elaine Harris, was thankful for the generosity of Charleston area residents.

“The community always steps up to the plate each year for the Stamp Out Hunger food drive,” she said. “And our letter carriers, these men and women work so hard on this effort every year. We truly appreciate their work to collect all this donated food from across the region.”

Harris recognized the hard work of members of the National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 531. She noted that many of the letter carriers stayed after their shifts ended, helping pack up the food so it could be trucked over to the United Food Operation warehouse for sorting.

“The donated food collected will help provide needed nutrition to many families around Kanawha and Putnam counties. It’s always a pleasure working with the letter carrier food drive leaders, RD Henson and Troy Lahue, on this annual program.”

Beyond NALC members, volunteers from around the areaalso came out to help process the donated foods.

Some of the volunteers included Kanawha County Judges Jennifer Bailey and Lera VanMeter, along with Curt Zickefoose, Lora Walker. and Circuit Court judge candidate Rich Lindsay,

Harris says another group that turns out year after year to help unload food are Charleston Firefighters from IAFF Local 317. They were back in force this year.

As they have for many years, members of the West Virginia Army National Guard used their trucks to help bring in food from remote postal centers and they also delivered the food from the main post office over to the UFO warehouse.

UFO-affiliated food pantry representatives also came out to help. They included Jodie Breitkreutz from Covenant House Charleston and Ted Dues with Enact. Also helping out was Larry Stanley, retired NALC.

UFO board members were out working too. Kay Moffatt helped out at the post office, while Joe Gresham was stationed at the Institute warehouse to receive the trucks delivering food there.

In coming days, the foods will be sorted and then shipped out to the ten UFO-affiliated local food pantries.

American Income Life contribution fights food insecurity

All of us at United Food Operation were so pleased to recently receive a generous contribution from American Income Life. This donation will be used to purchase food, which will help supply a dozen food pantries in Kanawha and Putnam counties of West Virginia.

The check was presented to UFO by Celia “CC” Odell, Public Relations Specialist at American Income Life. Elaine Harris, UFO chair person, received the donation and thanked American Income Life for their help.

“When we receive these contributions from businesses in our area, we can never thank them enough for their kindness,” Harris said. “These funds will be put to use providing food and much-needed nutrition to families in the two counties we serve.”

Laborers dig deep to fight hunger

The Construction & General Laborers Local 1353 recently presented a check to United Food Operation. Accepting the contribution was UFO’s chairperson Elaine Harris. The presentation took place at the WV State Capitol during the recent Legislative Session. 

Harris called the check “a very generous contribution” and offered a special thank-you to Local 1353 members for the donation, which will be used to purchase food for UFO-affiliated food pantries in Kanawha and Putnam Counties.

Pictured above are members of the Laborers Local 1353 with UFO chair Harris.

Spring food drive continues

There’s still time to get your business or workplace involved in collecting food for families in our local communities who face food insecurity. Your workplace can make a big difference by conducting a food drive or making a monetary donation.

Contact United Food Operation for help setting up your food collection or fundraising program. It’s not hard to do and it will make a difference in our local community.

AVN Corp. food drive produces results

AVN Corp’s South Charleston site proudly sponsored a food drive in February to support the United Food Operation. AVN Employees contributed numerous containers of non-perishable food items that UFO will distribute to multiple food pantries across Kanawha and Putnam counties in West Virginia. This collaboration underscores AVN’s commitment to local communities in which many of our employees reside.

UFO is an all-volunteer, charitable organization which has been making food distributions since its founding in 1981. UFO operates out of donated warehouse space in the Altivia Industrial Park in Institute, WV. To learn more, visit unitedfoodoperation.org.

UFO sets 2024 winter food distributions

United Food Operation (UFO) will begin its 2024 food distribution program this winter on Friday, January 12. The group is currently seeking financial support from businesses and individuals in Kanawha and Putnam counties to help underwrite the cost of the distributions.

The January 12 kick off event will be held at the UFO distribution center in the Institute Industrial Park. The food distribution program will continue for 12 weeks or until the funds run out, which ever comes first.

Last week, area food pantry representatives at the group’s annual organizational meeting noted that demand for food increased sharply this year due to decreased federal family food benefits, one which had been in place to help out during the COVID pandemic.

UFO’s leader, Elaine Harris, said the organization is committed to raising additional funds to support the increased need for food in the community. UFO board of directors members Matt Harris, of COVESTRO, and Joseph Davenport, of West Virginia State University, are leading the outreach to area business and industry seeking support for UFO’s 2024 food distribution programs.

Businesses may make direct donations, sponsor a fundraising activity, or may sponsor an entire week of food distributions. Persons interested in exploring a fundraising activity or to obtain more information on food insecurity in the region should contact Elaine Harris at (304) 342-2023.

UFO distributes food for families and individuals in Kanawha and Putnam counties of West Virginia through 12 participating community food pantries. UFO is all-volunteer based and operates from warehouse space donated by Altivia at Institute, WV. Last week’s UFO-2024 organization meeting was hosted by COVESTRO South Charleston.

A recently updated listing of UFO participating food pantries can be found on the UFO website at this link: unitedfoodoperation.org/participating-food-pantries/

Since 1992, United Food Operation has distributed food to the needy each winter. UFO never charges the food pantries for any of the food it provides them. UFO is a cooperative charitable program led by organized labor and industries in the Charleston region of the Kanawha Valley.

UFO distributes 6 tons of food collected in NALC drive

Eight o’clock Tuesday morning came and food pantry trucks began lining up at the United Food Operation, Inc. (UFO) warehouse in Institute, WV.

By 9:00 A.M. most all the food had been loaded into pantry vehicles and sent off help needy families in the region.

Food pantries across Kanawha and Putnam counties were excited to receive the bounty from the local Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive, conducted last Saturday by National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 531 (NALC) along with the United States Postal Service

This year’s bounty from the food drive weighed in at 12,000 pounds—or 6 tons—of non-perishable foods, which will be put to use serving families across Putnam and Kanawha counties.

Some of the over 6 tons of foods donated to the Stamp Out Hunger food drive. Stored at the UFO warehouse.

“We’re so thankful for the generosity of all the people who donated food to the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive,” said UFO Chair Elaine Harris, “And we’re also thankful for all the letter carriers and volunteers who helped in this fantastic effort.

“The Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive is such a beautiful thing. It works so well. I tip my hat to the NALC and to everybody who makes it possible.”

NALC Branch 531 food drive leader R.D. Henson meets with UFO’s Harris to plan for food distribution.

UFO works with 12 independent food panties that distribute the foods in their service areas. UFO is an all-volunteer organization, established over 40 years ago, to raise funds and collect donated food to help families and individuals with food security in Kanawha and Putnam counties. List of food pantries working with UFO

WV National Guard helps out

Harris also passed along her appreciation for the West Virginia National Guard and its members who helped on Saturday loading and trucking food from outlying post offices to the Main Charleston Post Office, where it was consolidated for shipping to UFO’s warehouse.

We love out food pantry people

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Food pours in from Letter Carriers drive

On May 13, tons of non-perishable foods were collected during the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive in the Charleston, WV region. United Food Operation (UFO) leaders called it a success for which they are thankful.

Saturday’s receipts were many tons of donated food.

The generous donations from postal patrons across the Kanawha Valley area will be put to use quickly in supplying food pantries across Kanawha and Putnam counties. The Stamp Out Hunger food drive has annually been an important boost to food charities in our region.

NALC makes important donation

United Food Operation, Inc. is happy to partner again with the NALC in sorting and distributing the donated food, which will be sent out to area food pantries on Tuesday. Twelve geographically-distributed independent food pantries in the Kanawha Valley will receive the foods at no cost.

NALC members present checks for $4,000 to help fight hunger in the Charleston WV region.
Local NALC leaders present two $2,000 donations to UFO to assist in the fight against hunger in the Kanawha Valley.

To further assist Charleston area food security efforts this year, the National Association of Letter Carriers national office matched a $2,000 donation by NALC Branch 531. The $4,000 total will be used by United Food Operation to purchase additional food to distribute to food pantries.

Stamp Out Hunger involves lots of folks

On Stamp Out Hunger Day, residents around the region set out donations of non-perishable foods next to their mail boxes. The food is then collected by their USPS letter carriers as they deliver mail. The letter carriers take the food to central post office facilities at the end of their routes.

With the assistance of volunteers from the West Virginia National Guard, the food is taken from outlying post offices to the main post office in downtown Charleston. The food is consolidated into large bins, which at the end of the day are delivered to United Food Operation’s warehouse in Institute, WV.

Forklift driver services donated by ACS Chemical, Institute WV

Working at the Charleston Main Post Office on Saturday were NALC members along with UFO leaders, and volunteers from local charities. NALC Local 531 provided pizza and soft drinks to volunteers helping aggregate the foods on Saturday. That gesture was greatly appreciated.

United Food Operation helping since 1981

United Food Operation, Inc. is an all-volunteer food bank serving 12 food pantries in Kanawha and Putnam counties. UFO is funded with donated monies from area businesses, AFL-CIO affiliated union members and other workers and citizens of the Kanawha Valley area, along with small grants and contracts from government agencies.

UFO operates from donated warehouse space provided by Altivia Chemical at the Institute Industrial Park, and utilizes donated equipment from MH Rents. Together these things keep operational costs at a bare minimum and allow food purchases to be maximized.

PHOTO GALLERY

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UFO gears up for 2023 Letter Carriers food drive

United Food Operation of West Virginia (UFO) has begun preparations for the National Association of Letter Carriers “Stamp Out Hunger” Food Drive, which occurs on Saturday, May 13.

UFO and the Letter Carriers are asking postal patrons in the Charleston WV region to fill a grocery bag with non-perishable foods and place it next to their mailbox that morning.

Letter carriers will collect the food as they deliver mail that day. United States Postal Service workers will then deliver the food to central post office facilities, where is is consolidated and then trucked to the United Food Operation warehouse in Institute, WV. Once at the UFO warehouse, the foods are sorted and organized into allotments for participating food pantries.

On Tuesday, May 16, trucks from UFO-affiliated food pantries in Kanawha and Putnam counties will pick up the food and take it to their locations, where it is added to the stocks of food available to families in the communities they serve.

Volunteers needed May 13

Volunteers unloading donated food at a past NALC food drive in Charleston, WV

On Saturday, May 13, volunteers are needed between the hours of 2:30 and 6:30 P.M. at the Main Post Office building in downtown Charleston. The volunteers assist with unloading food from the postal vehicles and consolidating it onto trailers so it can be hauled to the UFO warehouse. Food and soft drinks will be provided to volunteers helping at the at the main Post Office loading dock.

To get details about volunteering, please call 304-342-2023 or email UFO and say you would like to assist the Letter Carriers Food Drive. Any questions you have can be answered on the telephone. Alternatively, you can just show up on the afternoon of May 13 at the downtown Charleston post office loading dock off Washington Street, and the organizers will put you to work.

Food pantries meet with UFO

Representatives from UFO-affiliated food pantries in Kanawha and Putnam counties met recently with UFO officials to organize for the upcoming Letter Carriers food drive. The meeting, held at the Covestro conference room in South Charleston, was designed to help everyone prepare for the receipt of food from the collection. The Letter Carriers food drive here is among the most significant single-day events of its type in the state.

Since 1981, UFO has worked to provide food to needy families in the Kanawha Valley region. Anyone wishing to donate to money to the all-volunteer United Food Operation efforts may send a check of any amount to P.O. Box 20441, Charleston, WV 25362. Donations go to purchase food that is distributed to participating food pantries. United Food Operation, Inc. is registered with the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.

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.

Thursday-Friday-Saturday

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 unitedfoodoperation.org. 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

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