Support continues, challenges begin

It was great to hear today that Bayer CropScience Institute plant continues to commit its support for United Food Operation (UFO) even in the wake of its current operational downsizing and pending layoffs. Of course the reality is that this support cannot be what it once was, and those reductions will hurt.

In recent years the support from Bayer, its employees, and IAM Local 656 has been the cornerstone of UFO’s success. Without Bayer’s help, it is hard to imagine where the program would be today, even if it would exist.

The UFO family is saddened by the loss of a number of long-term UFO supporters as they will be departing from Bayer operations. The loss will be felt by UFO both in its fundraising and volunteer arms.

Those who have been around for more than a few years know that we have been through this before. Just think back to the downsizing and unit shut-downs at Union Carbide/Dow, FMC, Monsanto, and AT&T. Each of those hurt too.

The coming year will be a challenge that, hopefully, will bring out the best in our community and it’s employers as UFO seeks their help in feeding the hungry in our little corner of the world. Everyone knows the need for food is great—maybe about as high as it’s ever been here. Our participating food pantries report their shelves have a lot of gaps and that not all those in need can be adequately served.

As we thank our participating employers for their generous support, we know we must also gain new support from new employers and new individuals. It’s said that every time one door closes, another one opens. We must take this old saying and make it happen in the Kanawha Valley for the sake of those who need our service.

Yes, it will be a challenge, but it’s time to get working.

WQBE Radio Remote to Raise Support

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

For more information, call 304-342-2023 by 4:00 pm Friday, March 9.

WQBE-FM can be found at 97.5 on the FM dial.

A great way to start 2012

Governor Tomblin honors United Food Operation

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin honored the United Food Operation program today with his proclamation of support for our 30th anniversary food drive. This year’s drive, Winter Harvest 2012, is dedicated to the memory of UFO co-founder and long-time volunteer Windy Withrow, who died last month.

A good crowd of approximately 100 attendees came out on a snowy Friday morning. They heard Elaine Harris, UFO chair, tell a bit of the program’s history from the first winter food drive back in 1982. Letters were read from former Governor Bob Wise and former FMC plant manager Woody Waylan that both congratulated UFO at its 30th anniversary.

Governor Tomblin also recognized the work and dedication of the 13 food pantries that participate in United Food Operation.

Helping get things off on the right foot were representatives of Bayer CropScience, Dupont Belle Works, and Clearon, who presented contributions from the companies and their employees. Also heard was word of a generous donation from the West Virginia AFL-CIO.

2012 drive memorializes “Windy” Withrow

This year’s food drive, Winter Harvest 2012, is dedicated to the memory of Donald “Windy” Withrow.  Back in 1981 Withrow was a co-founder of the United Food Operation and was a tireless volunteer through the years.

A long-time Saint Albans resident, Withrow passed away on December 9, 2011 at age 72. He will be greatly missed by the entire United Food Operation extended family.

Bob Wise with United Food Operation
Windy Withrow, at far left, is shown in this 1983 photo with other United Food Operation volunteers (L to R) Carol Haid, postal worker; Congressman Bob Wise; Kay Taylor, CWA/C&P; Elaine Harris, CWA/C&P; and Dick Dorsey, Laborers #1353/WV Water.

When he helped start United Food Operation, Withrow worked at FMC in South Charleston and was a member of United Steelworkers Local 12625. Then FMC plant manager E.W. “Woody” Wayland provided Withrow the time to help coordinate the budding UFO organization as part of the plant’s support for the organization. Withrow then spent many, many more hours of his own time working on UFO projects over the next decades.


Come to the 2012 Kick Off

You are cordially invited to attend the United Food Operation 30th Year Celebration and Kick Off  at 10:00 AM on Friday, January 13th at the UFO Warehouse located at the Institute Industrial Park.  Governor Earl Ray Tomblin will be attending along with other state officials.

The kick off gets everyone together to celebrate the start of the 10-week food distribution period. In addition to food distribution from the warehouse, the date begins Winter Harvest 2012, a fundraising effort to raise the additional support needed to ensure that United Food Operation can supply the 13 food pantries adequately this winter.

Directions to the UFO warehouse.
For additional information call Elaine Harris at 304-342-2023.

Impact of hunger

The following description is from the Feeding America website:

A critical component to a healthy life is nutrition. From birth, the intake of vital nutrients is essential to the growth and development of a healthy individual. Good nutrition, particularly in the first three years of life, is important in establishing and maintaining a good foundation that has implications on a child’s future physical and mental health, academic achievement, and economic productivity. Unfortunately, food insecurity is an obstacle that threatens that critical foundation.

United Food Operation is an important tool for fighting food insecurity in the Kanawha Valley. If you can help, please donate.

Donation by check:  mail to United Food Operation, PO Box 20411, Charleston, WV 25362

Donation by credit card: use razoo

We use the razoo Foundation donation service because of its ease of use and very low cost. It is a great service. You can use razoo to securely make a donation to United Food Operation with your Visa, Mastercard or American Express card.

Donate Now

More people seeking help, charities report

(The following item appeared in the Charleston Gazette in Oct. 2011.)

West Virginia charity groups are reporting an increase in the number of people seeking assistance.

In the first nine months of this year there was a 6 percent increase in the number of West Virginians who called th statewide 211 hot line.

Local news sources report that the callers are seeking help with food, shelter and utilities. The hot line fields 1,500 to 2,000 calls a month.

If the upward trend continues, about 11,000 more people will have sought help with basic needs in 2011 than 2010.

The United Way of Central West Virginia reports that it has undergone a 146 percent increase in the number of calls it has received in the first nine months of the year.

More people seeking food pantry help
More people are expected to seek help from our food pantries this winter.

UFO prepares for 30th winter food distribution

United Food Operation is preparing for its 30th annual winter food distribution program, which will run from January 13 to March 31, 2012.

During this 10-week period United Food Operation will make weekly food distributions to 13 area food pantries in support of their missions to assist needy local families and individuals. The pantries are located across Kanawha and Putnam counties of West Virginia.

Support for United Food Operation comes primarily from voluntary contributions by employees at Charleston, WV-area plants, public utilities, and government facilities. It was originally organized by and continues to receive strong support from local union members in the region.

The group’s board of trustees met with representatives of the participating food pantries on November 17. They announced that the warehouse distribution center would again be supplied free of charge by Bayer Crop Science at the Institute Industrial Park in Institute, WV. Distribution will take place each Saturday morning during the program period.

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