Rumors addressed about MS Food Pantry

Wednesday, January 30, 2019
There have been recent concerns about the Mammoth Spring Food Pantry including rumors of the facility closing.
Renee Janes

Recently, there have been rumors and concerns in Mammoth Spring about issues involving the Mammoth Spring Food Pantry, one even that the facility would be closing.

The South Missourian News was informed pantry volunteers were told in November the pantry would need to be moved in 2019 and the city was not to be responsible for paying the utilities and insurance on the building. The pantry was informed there is a law that states the city cannot pay for the expenses, which includes utilities and insurance.

The pantry was also asked to move food being stored in the Mammoth Spring Fire Department, which was food collected from the recent Hunger Hero Campaign. The trailer is small and extra food is stored in a small room at the fire department.

Mammoth Spring Mayor Charles Vaughn stated the food would be in the way of holding court in the fire department building and other activities at the facility.

The pantry was given three days to move the food.

With not many options to move the pantry to, it is stated the best option is to stay where it is currently located.

The South Missourian News contacted Mayor Vaughn concerning the food pantry. Vaughn stated the city is working with the pantry as best they can.

“We are trying to do as best we can,” said Vaughn.

Vaughan stated it is municipal law that the city cannot donate to the pantry and it has been a law for a long time.

For the time being, the pantry will stay open. Vaughn also stated the trailer will not be moved and may be rented. The pantry’s rent will be $5 a month, which Vaughn has volunteered to pay himself.

Established in 2007, the Mammoth Spring Food Pantry helps provide needed groceries to residents. They serve approximately 20 to 90 families per month and has been able to do so with the city allowing the use of the building without the expense.

Collections are received from local businesses, churches, individuals and schools.

According to Arkansas Municipal League Municipal Law in Arkansas Questions and Answers,

“Q: May the city donate money to private non-profit charitable organizations such as a senior citizen’s center or boys/girl’s club?

A: Recreational and youth programs are a public purpose and thus are a proper subject for municipal expenditures. See A.C.A. 14-54-1301 (cities may operate recreational programs; Ark. Atty. Gen. Op. Nos. 96-358 (statute authorizing counties to operate recreational programs establishes them as a public purpose) and 2001-135 (providing youth recreational serves is a laudable goal well within the city’s discretion.

However, the city may not donate or directly appropriate funds to a private organization, even one that is charitable or nonprofit, without violating Article 12 Section 5 o the Arkansas Constitution. That provision prohibits the appropriation of public funds to private individuals or corporations.

On the other hand, a city may enter into a contract with a private charitable organization to provide services that the city itself could provide. See Ark. Atty. Gen. Op. No. 2001-135 (city could contract with Boys and Girls Club).

One factor a court might examine would be whether the city receives some consideration for its money. In other words, the nonprofit organization should in fact provide a service that would not exist (or wool be less extensive) but for the funds received by the city. Consult with your city attorney about drafting a suitable contract.”

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