Longtime homeless helper, Copeland, may lose license to feed hungry

4:13 AM, Apr 11, 2008   |    comments
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Mary Jo Copeland says the city is trying to stop Sharing and Caring Hands from doing business near the new Twins stadium. "It's because the stadium is here. And that's exactly why they came," an emotional Sharing and Caring Hands President Mary Jo Copeland said at a news conference Thursday. Copeland's news conference comes after she received a letter to appear at a license review meeting. In the notice, the city of Minneapolis says Sharing and Caring Hands is failing to meet conditions for holding a license. Things like preventing drug deals, disorderly conduct and other criminal activity. A spokesman for the mayor's office denies Copeland's claims that the situation centers around the new stadium. "This has been an ongoing effort, I think back to 2005. The city has very clear guidelines on public safety. We hold everybody, including Sharing and Caring Hands to those guidelines," Minneapolis Mayor's Office Communications Director Jeremy Hanson said. "In 2007 there were 191 calls for service," Business Licenses Deputy Director Ricardo Cervantes said, referencing stats on police calls to Sharing and Caring Hands. 191 calls. A number Cervantes says is extraordinarily high. Still he says the intent isn't to end the meals at Sharing and Caring Hands, but rather to end the crime in and around the facility. "We know that these services are necessary in our city, we just want to make sure they're being delivered safely," Cervantes added. "You can walk and see how safe my facility is," Copeland said. Copeland says Sharing and Caring Hands serves three meals a day to between 800 and one-thousand people. Thursday she said it would be quote "pretty hard" to operate without a restaurant license. Copeland points to a network of security cameras and guards as ways she's already increased security. As for further actions? "If it's reasonable, I certainly would do it," Copeland said. The two sides will try to agree on what's reasonable on April 25th.

By Jeff Olsen, KARE 11 News

(Copyright 2008 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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