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
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.
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.
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 St. Albans Women of the Moose held a food drive at the Lodge with all food collected going to United Food Operation. The donations were presented to Joe Gresham, UFO’s warehouse manager, from members of Loyal Order of the Moose #868 and the Women of the Moose #857.
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.
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.
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.
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.
WQBE will be partnering with the United Food Operation again this year on Saturday, March 10. A live remote broadcast will be conducted from the UFO warehouse at the Institute Industrial Park from 6:00 am to 10:00 am.
This effort will raise awareness throughout the community about the need for food in local food pantries and the work of United Food Operation to help them. Donations of food and money are urgently needed to help the pantries meet the need in our community this winter.
Come join WQBE’s Jeff Jeffries, UFO supporters and volunteers as they raise food and funds Saturday morning. Bring your donations to the warehouse or contribute through the program website at unitedfoodoperation.org.
For more information, call 304-342-2023 by 4:00 pm Friday, March 9.