Permit Issues Continue For Upper Cape Helping Hands Food Pantry
By: Geoff Spillane
Upper Cape Helping Hands Inc., a food pantry with distribution centers in Mashpee and Sandwich, has quietly closed its Mashpee location on Bowdoin Road, according to Lynda A. Carroll, the founder and executive director of the organization that was formerly known as the Mashpee Food Pantry. The pantry continues to operate from its pantry at a building on the property of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Sandwich.
The closure of the Mashpee pantry, however, was never brought to the attention of the Mashpee Board of Health, which sent Ms. Carroll a certified letter last week, ordering her to appear before the board for a “show cause” hearing on March 27. The trigger for the hearing notice was the organization’s failure to submit a 2013 food establishment application, which meant that it was operating a food pantry without a permit. In addition, a recent inspection of the Mashpee pantry, which was on loan to the organization from Southworth Willowbend, showed that food items were still being stored in the building.
“On March 6, 2013, Veronica Warden, Assistant Health Agent, and a representative from Southworth Willowbend met at the site. Ms. Warden conducted an inspection of the unit to verify you ceased operations of the food pantry. During the inspection, Ms. Warden observed shelves stocked with canned food and boxes of dry food product,” Mashpee Health Agent Glen E. Harrington wrote in the letter.
Based on photographs provided by the board of health, the storage facility is still stocked with dozens of boxes of food.
Reached at her home yesterday, Ms. Carroll, who recently suffered a death in her family and has been preoccupied with other issues, said that she had contacted Willowbend late last year to inform it of the closing of the pantry, and that she intends to have all food items cleared out of the location by next week. Ms. Carroll said that the location was not viable during the winter months, as it had no heat or outside lights, minimizing the time that a limited number of volunteers could work in the pantry. She also said that Mashpee residents who had utilized the pantry can use the Sandwich location or arrange for food delivery to their homes.
Sandwich residents Richard and Kathleen Powell, who have been operating the Sandwich pantry for Ms. Carroll while she was taking care of a sick family member, said that pantry has been open on Saturdays and that it serves more people from Mashpee than any other town. The Powells also said that the Mashpee pantry has not been in use since late last year.
“She has a heart of gold, let me tell you,” Ms. Powell said about Ms. Carroll, adding that she cannot say anything but good things about what she has done to help people.
Over the years, though, Ms. Carroll has a history of run-ins with the Mashpee Board of Health. Issues have included failure to attend meetings and failure to show documentation regarding the nonprofit status of the organization, despite claims that it should be exempt from local permitting fees as a nonprofit. Last spring, the Enterprise reported that the organization was soliciting tax-deductible financial donations, even though it was not approved to do so by the federal Internal Revenue Service.
Ms. Carroll also had meat confiscated from what was considered unsanitary storage facilities when the pantry was located at Mashpee Village, and she was reprimanded for not completing a mandated food handling class.
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