Food bank can stay at site Commissioners end dispute over space in Barrel House

October 02, 1997|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

The County Commissioners say Carroll County Food Sunday may remain in a county-owned building in downtown Westminster, ending a dispute with Human Services Programs that could have jeopardized the food bank's operation.

Human Services Programs Inc., which shares with Carroll County Food Sunday the space it leases for $1 a year in the Barrel House at Route 27 and Distillery Drive, had asked the food bank to move out by spring to accommodate staff members for new programs.

"Food Sunday is very relieved to be able to continue to operate out of a location convenient to our clients," said Anna Rollins, chairwoman of the board of directors.

Human Services Programs operates programs for low-income families, including emergency rental assistance, shelters and a family support center. The food bank "subleases" about 2,500 square feet on the ground floor of the Barrel House from Human Services.

Food bank officials said it's critical that the operation, which serves up to 900 people a week, remain in a centrally located site. Rollins said a third of the agency's clients walk to the Barrel House.

"I'm very grateful that I don't have to deal with the paperwork and meetings to do this [move]," she said. "I want to concentrate on the holiday food drives coming up."

Rollins said a move from the Westminster location also would have affected Carroll County Food Sunday's operations in Taneytown and Sykesville. The food bank uses the refrigeration equipment in the Barrel House to store 10,000 to 15,000 pounds of food a month, donated by Weis Markets and Giant Food. Some of the food is distributed to the satellite food banks.

"Fifty percent of our inventory passes through this equipment," Rollins said. "We're able to store it, process it and hand it out."

The commissioners' decision followed a meeting last week with representatives from Carroll County Food Sunday and Human Services Programs. Rollins requested the commissioners' intervention because her attempts to meet with the Human Services Programs board had been unsuccessful.

Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown said the commissioners unanimously sided with the food bank.

"We felt there were too many volunteers with Carroll County Food Sunday going to extraordinary lengths to provide a needed service," he said. "We wanted to send a message that there is a place in the county for this organization to function."

The commissioners agreed to Rollins' request for a separate lease between the county and Carroll County Food Sunday. They also authorized the installation of new locks at the food bank and the construction of a barrier to close off its inventory space from other offices. Rollins had told the commissioners about recent break-ins and thefts at the food bank.

"It will be treated as any other tenant with the ability to control its own space," Brown said.

Work with the agency

In a memorandum to Human Services Programs director Sylvia Canon, the commissioners said county officials will work with the agency to find additional office space.

"This is not meant as a rebuke to Human Services Programs," Brown said. "It's a clarification that both agencies are extremely important to us."

Canon said she wasn't surprised by the commissioners' decision.

"They did what I thought they would do," she said. "It hasn't changed my needs, and I don't have a solution."

In June, Human Services Programs notified Carroll County Food Sunday that the food bank would have to vacate its space in the Barrel House by April 30.

Human Services Programs said it needed more room for the nine-member Head Start staff, which the agency took over in August from the county public school system.

Human Services also may assume responsibility for Core Services, an agency that will coordinate publicly funded mental health services in the county.

'Everybody needs a space'

Canon said she had two available offices for three Head Start employees -- the director, an assistant and a bookkeeper. The six service coordinators have staked out territory in the Raising Hopes infant day care center, also in the Barrel House building.

"They don't really have a space, and everybody needs a space," Canon said.

Rollins said she has asked for a meeting between the boards of Carroll County Food Sunday and Human Services Programs to discuss space problems and other issues.

The Human Services Programs board will decide at its meeting this week whether to meet with the food bank board, Canon said.

Pub Date: 10/02/97

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