Tag Archives: food charity

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.

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.

Auction items needed for Bid Away Hunger event

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

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.
bid away hunger

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.

To Donate Items or For More Information

Contact Misti Davis at memitz.davis@yahoo.com

bid away hunger

Bid Away Hunger

2:00 – 5:00 p.m.
March 25, 2018

Louie’s Lounge
Mardi Gras Casino
Cross Lanes, WV

2017 food distribution and kick-off set

The 2017 United Food Operation (UFO) food distribution program will kickoff on Friday, January 13 at 11:00 A.M. and run through April 1, announced Elaine Harris, chairperson of the group.

Volunteers from St. Albans Food Pantry
Volunteers from the St. Albans Food Pantry are among the many who donate their time to United Food Operation. Donations are needed to help feed the needy this winter.

The 12 UFO participating food pantries are all experiencing increased needs this season, so the organization expects to use all the help it can get this year.

“I am asking everyone to come to the United Food Operation warehouse for the kickoff program on Jan. 13 at 11:00 A.M. and bring monetary and food contributions,” said Harris. “Also, reach out to other companies and organizations and invite them to drop by with a contribution.”

Since 1982, UFO raises funds around the year and uses them each winter to purchase bulk foods needed by community food pantries around Kanawha and Putnam counties. Food is distributed to the pantries on Saturdays for 12 weeks each winter.

Pictured L to R are Joe Davenport, Clifford Means, and Andy Altman.
Volunteers from local industry ensure that United Food Operation gets the food to the pantries.

To support feeding needy people in our community, area businesses can collect funds or food during the winter season and UFO will take care of getting food to the community food pantries. UFO charges no overhead on monetary contributions. All the funds go to support food distributions in the Kanawha Valley area.

ICL Group donates to United Food Operation
UFO Chairperson Elaine Harris accepts a donation from ICL Group, ( formerly known as Clearon) represented by John Kadlec, Director of Operations, South Charleston plant.

United Food Operation is an all-volunteer group that operates as a 501c(3) charitable organization. No salaries are paid and the group runs with donated labor and equipment out of donated warehouse space at the Institute Industrial Park. Dow Chemical Company maintains the warehouse facility on behalf of the group. Founded in 1981, the group conducted its first winter season food distribution program in 1982. This winter will be the 36th annual food distribution.

Open house held, donations received

Community members got a first look at the new headquarters of United Food Operation (UFO)  Saturday during an open house in Institute.

United Food Operation recognizes contributors and volunteers
The Open House included a formal program to recognize major contributors and volunteers.

UFO Chairperson Elaine Harris expressed the groups gratitude to Dow Chemical and Bayer CropScience for their generous donations, which led to UFO basically being given the newly renovated building through a very favorable lease. Surveying the completely remodeled facility, Harris remembered times in years gone by when UFO had to work out of less than optimum space.

“This is a wonderful space—UFO hasn’t always had it so good,” she said, recalling years when they had to move pallets of food around because of leaks in the roof and other times having to work out of basically unheated space in the middle of the winter.

Connie Stewart, center, and Cliff Means present a check for $20,000 dollars from Bayer CropScience to support United Food Operation programs. Receiving the check is UFO Chairperson Elaine Harris.
Connie Stewart, center, and Cliff Means present a check for $20,000  from Bayer CropScience to support United Food Operation programs. Receiving the check is UFO Chairperson Elaine Harris.

For most of the past decade Bayer CropScience had provided the group use of a good building for food distribution that was located about 150 yards west of the current building. But with Bayer selling much of its Institute Industrial Park space to Dow Chemical last year, the former building’s lot was targeted for other uses and the building scheduled for demolition.

Dow, Bayer work together to help UFO

Andy Altman, center, explains Dow Chemical Company's support for United Food Operation by providing the building, including all maintenance and utilities.
Andy Altman, center, explains Dow Chemical Company’s support for United Food Operation by providing the building, including all maintenance and utilities. Left to right are Joe Davenport, a contract employee at Dow and UFO board member; Altman; and UFO Chairperson Elaine Harris.

Knowing that would force UFO to find other facilities, the two companies set about solving the problem. During the transition period, Dow and Bayer got together and identified another building at the very northeast corner of the industrial park that would be good for UFO’s use, but it needed a lot of clean-up and renovation.

Dow agreed to lease the building to UFO at a most favorable $1/year, and Bayer agreed to take the lead on renovating the building to prepare it for UFO’s use. Working together, the two firms  did a great job on a relatively short timeline. United Food Operation was able to take possession of the building before the end of 2015.

United Food Operation headquarters and distribution center at the Institute Industrial Park.
The new United Food Operation headquarters and food distribution center at the Institute Industrial Park. Leaders say it’s the best space the group has ever had.

The building turned out to be the best space UFO has ever had. It has its own private access off Rt. 25 and a totally fenced lot. Inside, the building has warehouse space, a conference/break room, an office, and a bathroom—all kept toasty warm with a good heating system, The cleaned-up, repaired, and freshly painted facility is now the pride and joy of the group.

Dunbar Mayor Terry Greenly (center) expresses his support for the work of United Food Operation to UFO's Elaine Harris. With Greenly is Dunbar Councilman Steve Arnott.
Dunbar Mayor Terry Greenlee (center) expresses his support for the work of United Food Operation to UFO’s Elaine Harris. With Greenlee is Dunbar Councilman Steve Arnott.

Mayor Terry Greenlee, from the neighboring city of Dunbar, stopped by and welcomed folks to his part of the county. He expressed his appreciation the work of United Food Operation. He was accompanied by Dunbar Councilman Steve Arnott, who has long been a UFO supporter.

The contributions of Frontier Communication are recognized by UFO's Elaine Harris. On left is XXX ZZZZZZ of Frontier's West Virginia operations.
The contributions of Frontier Communications are recognized by UFO . At left is Cheryl Black of Frontier’s West Virginia operations with Elaine Harris.

Telecommunications companies have long been core contributors to United Food Operation, providing many thousands of dollars in support through the years. Cheryl Black of  Frontier Communications told the group about the company’s efforts this year to raise funds for UFO in cooperation with members of the Communications Workers of America. Contributions from the local unit of Verizon were also acknowledged.

Other contributions acknowledged today were those from Clearon’s South Charleston plant, Chemores of Belle, and IVS Hydro of Institute.

Noble Pickens honored for his years of service

This year's food drive is dedicated to Noble Pickens. Following his retirement from industry, this Dunbar resident worked tirelessly for UFO, helping run things at the warehouse.
This year’s food drive is dedicated to Noble Pickens. Following his retirement from industry, this Dunbar resident worked tirelessly for UFO, helping run warehouse operations.

Harris announced that the 2016 food drive was dedicated to Noble Pickens of Dunbar.  For many years Pickens was a loyal volunteer, who took a lead role in purchasing food and managing distributions to the participating pantries. Recently, his health has greatly limited his volunteer time with the group.

Another food distribution weekend

Volunteers from St. Albans Food Pantry
Volunteers from St. Albans Community Food Pantry

On Friday morning, volunteers provided by the St. Albans Community Food Pantry prepared the pallets of food so they could be distributed to the pantries on Saturday.

Volunteers from SGS Petroleum Services, Institute
Volunteers from SGS Petroleum Services, Institute, with the WQBE rabbit.

On Saturday morning, before the Open House, the second weekly food distribution of the season was conducted. This week, UFO is indebted to the volunteers who came from SGS Petroleum Services at the Institute  Industrial Park.

Each week, different organizations takes responsibility for recruiting and supplying volunteers needed to perform food sorting on Fridays and loading the pantry trucks on Saturdays.

United Food Operation board members
United Food Operation board members line up for the record.

The program has 10 more weeks of food distributions in it’s winter program this year. In May, it will handle food distributions for the Postal Workers Food Drive. All funds donated this winter will go to provide additional food to the weekly food distributions.


United Food Operation works out of new distribution center

Jan8-2016 - 1The United Food Operation, Inc. 2016 food distribution season has officially begun. This morning at 8:00 A.M., volunteers from the Nitro Food Pantry joined UFO volunteer staff at the program’s new facility to sort food destined for area food pantries. Continue reading United Food Operation works out of new distribution center

Letter Carriers Food Drive set for May 9

National Association of Letter Carriers, Branch 531, will lead this years food drive in the Charleston WV region.

This year’s National Association of Letter Carriers (NACL) annual food drive will take place on Saturday, May 9. United Food Operation (UFO) will again assist the letter carriers with unloading food at the downtown Charleston postal center.

UFO needs volunteers to help at the downtown post office from 1:00 PM until around 6:00 PM.

Volunteers are needed to help out on May 9.
Volunteers are needed to help out on May 9 at the downtown postal center.

NACL uses United Food Operation to distribute the donated food to food pantries around the Kanawha Valley.  UFO will truck the donated food from the Charleston post office to its  distribution center at the Institute Industrial Park. At the warehouse the food will be divided into portions for each of the 12 participating food pantries in Kanawha and Putnam counties. The pantries will then pick up the food and use it to help with their missions.

Volunteer Contact

Those wishing to volunteer should contact Nancy Grist at ngrist@cwa-union.org or may call her at 304-342-2023 no later than May 1. Volunteers should plan to work at least a two-hour shift between 1:00 and 6:00 PM on May 9. Volunteers should be able to lift boxes weighing from 15 to 25 pounds. Food and soft drinks will be provided.

Volunteers will be working in the post office loading dock area, which is entered off Washington Street E., across the street from the Best Western Charleston Plaza Hotel.

Winter Food Drive Ends with a Flurry


snow flurry at United Food Operation
Typical for the this year’s distribution days, a snow flurry hits the United Food Operation warehouse early Saturday morning on the final day of the winter food distribution program.

Winter snow flurries couldn’t stop the flurry of activity as the final day of the 2015 winter food distribution program took place at United Food Operation, Inc. (UFO). The winter campaign ended March 28 with a group breakfast for volunteers and food pantry workers.


Volunteers sorted food and loaded trucks as usual. A large group showed up for the final day of the winter program.


“I want to thank everyone for their work this winter,” said Elaine Harris, UFO chairwoman.  “I am constantly encouraged by all the people who contribute their time and money to our effort.”


Among this year’s contributions, Harris mentioned the work of the Communications Workers of America and Frontier Communications Corp., who really came through with big time support that helped the campaign end on a very positive note.


The program distributed packaged food to 12 independent food pantries in Kanawha and Putnam counties for 12 weeks of the winter season. This is the time of year during which food pantries experience increased need as people’s heating bills peak, leaving less in the family budget for food purchases.


UFO is an all-volunteer operation. It pays no salaries or contracted employees. It operates from donated warehouse space provided by Bayer CropScience at the Institute Industrial Park. All the funds individuals donate to the organization go to purchase and distribute food.

Noble Pickens: a volunteer supreme

Noble Pickens, sitting, receives gifts of  a fishing rod and reel in appreciation for his many years of volunteer service to UFO.

The organization honored Noble Pickens for his many years of volunteer service to the group. Noble has long served as the warehouse coordinator, managing both food purchases and distributions for the program. United Food Operation could not be successful it it weren’t for folks like Noble who have spent countless hours through the years working to help those less fortunate. UFO is so indebted to him and other long-term volunteers who make the group go.


The next organization activity will be assisting with the Letter Carriers Food Drive in May. Letter carriers in the Charleston, WV, region use UFO to distribute the donated food to local food pantries.


As UFO closes the door on another winter food distribution season, plans are already being made for next year. Volunteers are always needed for fundraising and food collection activities. For information call Elaine Harris at (304) 342-2023.

2015 food drive, distributions under way

On January 9, United Food Operation, Inc. (UFO) began its 33rd season of supplying food to 12 community food pantries in Kanawha and Putnam counties of West Virginia.

Sylvia JonesUFO Chairwoman Elaine Harris announced the start of the group’s winter food drive at the kickoff event. This year’s food drive is dedicated in honor of Sylvia Mae Jones, who was formerly a receptionist at Bayer CropScience and a long-time supporter of UFO.

The meeting took place at Charleston’s Mountain Mission, which is one of the food pantries that benefits from the UFO program. Fund raising activity heated up fast as several donations were received from area work systems. Bayer Corp., ICL Group, and Dupont all stepped up to provide significant support for this year’s campaign.

Bayer Corp donates to United Food Operation
Bayer Corp. makes a much needed donation to support United Food Operation’s 2015 food drive. Pictured are, from left, Cliff Means, UFO Vice Chairman and Bayer CropScience employee; UFO’s Elaine Harris; and Connie Stewart, QSHE Manager, Bayer CropScience, Institute plant.

United Food Operation depends on the caring and generosity of workers and companies around the Kanawha Valley to provide the funds needed to fight hunger in the region. UFO is an all volunteer operation, with no salaries, and operates out of donated warehouse space at Institute, WV.

ICL Group donates to United Food Operation
Elaine Harris accepts a generous donation from ICL Group, (formerly known as Clearon) represented by John Kadlec, Director of Operations, South Charleston plant.

Because UFO operates with almost no overhead, all the funds it raises in the annual food drive can go toward purchasing food, which it then supplies to the community food pantries free of charge.

Dupont donation to United Food Operation, Inc.
Dupont shows its unity with the UFO 2015 campaign by making a welcomed donation of funds. Pictured from left to right are Jim O’Connor, plant manager, Dupont Belle Works; Pam Valentine, UFO volunteer and DuPont retiree; and UFO’s Elaine Harris.

Each Saturday from January through March, food pantry vehicles arrive at the UFO warehouse located in the Institute Industrial Park, to pick up a free load of packaged foods. This food is a big help to the pantries that are often strapped to meet the large need they find in their communities.

Senator Chris Walters supports United Food Operation efforts.
State Senator Chris Walters (at right) attended the program kickoff to show his support for the efforts of food pantries to feed the hungry. Also pictured are UFO’s Joseph Davenport and Elaine Harris.

United Food Operation receives support from a variety of employers and individuals around Kanawha and Putnam counties. Elaine Harris emphasized that more support is needed this season in order for the group to meets its goals. Business or individuals wishing to help can contact Harris at 304-342-2023.


UFO to begin 2015 food distribution program January 9

UFO meeting 11-12-14
United Food Operation Chairperson Elaine Harris leads the discussion, as program volunteers and community food pantry representatives brainstorm on enhancing the 2015 winter food distribution program.

Many ideas were contributed as United Food Operation, Inc. (UFO)  held its organization meeting for the 2015 winter food distribution season. With the treasurer’s report showing the group will begin the 2015 program season with about $8,000 less than last year, much of the discussion centered on fundraising.

“We understand money is tight, but still there are those who need our help,” said Elaine Harris, UFO chairperson as she expressed the group’s commitment to find more resources.

The organization will conduct its 33rd annual food distribution program from January 9 to March 28, 2015.  The program helps 12 local food pantries in Kanawha and Putnam counties get through the tough winter months.

It was determined that UFO needs to raise an additional $36,000 between now and the end of March if it is to maintain the same level of support  it provided food pantries last year.

Each year, United Food Operation program provides additional food to the pantries during a 12-week winter-to-spring period — a time during which many families struggle with high heating bills that cut into their food budgets. UFO provides this support to the pantries  at no cost to them.

The 2015 program will again operate out of space donated by Bayer CropScience at the Institute Industrial Park.

“We really appreciate Bayer’s providing us warehouse distribution space for the upcoming year,” Harris said. “They have been so generous through the years. I don’t know where we’d be without them.”

The 2015 distribution center will be located next door to the building that has been used the past several years. The former distribution center building is scheduled for demolition as the industrial park continues to experience changes and redevelopment.

United Food Operation meeting
Pantry representatives and UFO volunteers discuss the upcoming United Food Operation program season, which begins January 9, 2015.

Food pantry representatives at the meeting included those from Five Loaves–Two Fish, Poca; Nitro Community Services; EnAct, Inc, which operates in Clendenin, Montgomery and Chesapeake; Christian Community Cupboard, Hurricane; Covenant House, Charleston; Mountain Mission, Charleston; Sissonville Community Food Pantry; The Salvation Army, Charleston; and St. Albans Community Food Pantry. Representatives from Heart and Hand of South Charleston were unable to attend the meeting but will also participate again this winter.

United Food Operation, Inc. is a total volunteer operation with no paid staff and operates out of donated warehouse and office space. All donations it receives from the public go to purchase food.