Dutch Miller of Charleston recently collected non-perishable food as part of a dealership promotion and donated it to United Food Operation.
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.
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.
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.
The 2019 Winter Food Distribution Program will run each Saturday from January 12 to March 30, Elaine Harris, chair of United Food Operation (UFO), has announced. The season’s kickoff event will take place on Friday, Jan. 11.
United Food Operation will begin its next set of food distributions to area food pantries in January 2019. The exact dates of the 2019 program will be determined at the group’s annual organizational meeting on Friday, December 21.
On Saturday morning, April 7, United Food Operation completed its 12-week winter food distribution program. We will be gearing up again in May for the Letter Carriers “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive. Watch for it on Saturday, May 12.
Help is needed to obtain nice, new donated items for the Bid Away Hunger event on March 25. Donated items will be used as either silent auction items or game prizes.
Bid Away Hunger is a fundraiser held at Louie’s Lounge of Mardi Gras Casino in Cross Lanes, WV. The event includes a silent auction and fun and games for participants. A small admission charge gets you in the door. Hors d’oeuvres will be included and there will be a cash bar. All money raised goes to support food distributions of United Food Operation.
What items are needed?
Event organizer Misti Davis says that just about anything will work. “No item is too big or too small.”
When collecting an item, please obtain the name of donating business/person, person authorizing it, contact number, and retail value of item. Donation acknowledgement thank-you letters will be sent out to the donors.
Davis says you can also collect a few smaller monetary donations and purchase an auction item or buy a few smaller items that can used as game prizes or packaged with other items.
“I have donation letters and flyers I can bring to you,” says Davis. “If there is anyone I can reach out to, let me know.”
“We are on our way to another successful Bid Away Hunger,” said Davis, who is working hard to top last year’s fund raising effort.
United Food Operation completed its first weekend of food distributions for 2018 with a flurry of activity. Activities began Friday and concluded on Saturday.
Early Friday morning, food was sorted into pantry portions with help from a crew of volunteers from the Nitro Food Pantry. Earlier in the week the food was purchased and delivered to the warehouse so it could be sorted. Donated foods are also sorted. The first week’s foods included a large amount of cans and other non-perishable food from a collection conducted by Dutch Miller Auto of South Charleston.
UFO program kicked off Friday morning
Then at 10:00 a.m., Elaine Harris, UFO’s chairperson, and a group of guests and volunteers conducted the winter kick-off ceremony at the warehouse.
This season’s food distribution program was dedicated in honor of Clifford Means, a longtime UFO volunteer who also serves as the group’s vice chair. In recent years, Cliff has been employed as a machinist by Bayer CropScience, Institute Plant, which is closing out its operations at the Institute Industrial Park later this year.
Cliff’s honor was announced by Connie Stewart, a manager at Bayer CropScience. During her tenure, Stewart has also done much to assist the UFO program. Since Bayer began operating in Institute, the company has been a strong supporter of UFO. Along with Dow Chemical, Bayer was instrumental in helping UFO obtain the permanent facility it now uses as its headquarters and food distribution center.
Brian Aluise, of U.S. Senator Joe Manchin’s office, congratulated the group’s efforts on behalf of the Senator. He said UFO’s efforts were greatly appreciated.
Petroleum Services Corp. & MH Rents recognized
Chris Shinault and Andrew Ricks of SGS Petroleum Services Corp. were recognized for their company’s commitment to provide UFO with qualified fork lift operators for the distribution season. MH Equipment of Cross Lanes was thanked for donating the use of a nice forklift. MH Rents also donated the forklift last year.
Local media come out to cover event
Among those attending the ceremony were many United Food Operation volunteers and food pantry workers. Members of the news media were also there to cover the event.
Pantries pick up first bunches of food
On Saturday morning, pantry and UFO volunteers braved the cold, snowy conditions to load up pantry vehicles with donated foods. the 2018 food distribution program was officially underway.
The United Food Operation planning team met at IVS Hydro in Institute, WV, to start organizing the 2018 food drive and distribution program.
The dates for the 2018 campaign are:
Organization Summit with the Pantries: Wednesday, November 24, 2017 at 9:00 AM. Institute Industrial Park, Building 507 Room 202. Call the UFO office for more details: (304) 342-2023
Kickoff Celebration: Friday, January 12
Skip Week: March 30-31
Final Distribution and Thank-You Breakfast: Saturday, April 7
The team decided to host a Bid Away Hunger fundraising auction and party at Mardi Gras Casino again this year. The date will be announced later.
The planning team was encouraged by the over $36,000 already collected and in the bank for the 2018 food distribution program. The group hopes to add another $30,000 to that by the end of the year. Contacts are being made with area businesses who have supported the UFO food drives in the past.
Contributions to the 2018 food drive pay for food that is distributed to 12 food pantries in Kanawha and Putnam counties. As an all volunteer group operating out of donated warehouse space and using donated equipment, UFO uses all the funds donated by employees and businesses to purchase food, not overhead or salaries.
New members of the planning team this year were Misti Davis, Karen Snyder, and Carl Chadband. They all contributed welcomed new energy to the group.
The group heard a report about upgrades to the UFO distribution center. BayerCrop Science has completed painting the warehouse floor and it looks great. Dow Chemical has scheduled repairs and improvements to the rest room facility, which will be finished before the end of the year.
The next planning committee meeting is:
Oct 24, 2017 at 1:00 PM at IVS Hydro in Institute.
It’s late spring and the weather is getting nice. Spirits are up. Flowers are blooming. Plenty of outdoor activities draw your attention. It’s easy to forget that your local food pantry still needs your help.
That’s the beauty of the Stamp Out Hunger food drive conducted by the National Association of Letter Carriers and the United States Postal Service. It’s a poignant reminder at just the right time. This year’s food drive took place on May 13.
The need for food from our pantries has been pretty much at an all time high over the past winter months. The large-scale food resources that supply pantries are not really keeping up with the increased need we’ve seen.
The supply of food from large governmental food banks and national charitable organizations, while important, does not come close to meeting the true need of food pantries in our community. Local pantries depend on the generosity of the local community — of local folks who donate their dollars and canned goods all year around. Without the little people who bring over a few cans of tuna or few dollars they made at a bake sale, many local food pantries would close and many others would barely get by.
Letter Carriers give visibility to need for food
The Letter Carriers annual food drive brings home this point maybe better than any other large event. It communicates the need and says every little bit helps. Every little bit is important. The Letter Carriers reach out to all sectors of the community — urban, suburban and rural areas — to everyone who gets mail. No other food drive has this kind of reach.
And from the efforts of Letter Carriers and their allies, thousands of pounds of food are donated, collected, and then distributed to local food pantries where it is put to use serving the needy in our community. This donated food is a godsend, just ask anyone associated with one of our local food pantries.
UFO thanks our local Letter Carriers
United Food Operation want to sincerely thank members of Local 531 of the National Association of Letter Carriers for another great food drive. Letter Carrier R.D. Henson did a great job in his first year coordinating the program. Thanks also go out to all the other groups that cosponsored or otherwise helped out this wonderful effort.