Chicken curry with potatoes donated by Wilson Elementary and mixed greens is served as a main course. Photo by Scott Ball.
Chicken curry with potatoes donated by Wilson Elementary and mixed greens is served as a main course. Photo by Scott Ball.

The City of San Antonio dismissed Joan Cheever’s citation for feeding the homeless on Tuesday as it rethinks its regulations.

“Because the City’s food and mobile vending regulations do not address feeding the homeless and in an effort to move forward with the larger discussion … (the City is) dismissing the citation issued to Joan Cheever,” stated a new release from the City.

The decision comes almost three months after she was cited for serving food from her personal vehicle that did not carry the same food permit that her mobile food truck, The Chow Train, does. The citation sparked a local and national debate about the morality and legality of feeding the homeless.

Although Cheever is “happily surprised” the City dropped the charges against her, she said she will not be satisfied until the ordinance that prohibits individuals from feeding the homeless is repealed.

“We are not going to stop our fight until every good Samaritan is protected,” she said.

Cheever was scheduled to go to court for a jury trial later this month after she rejected a plea bargain.

The City Council’s Quality of Life Committee asked City staff members to develop a plan that allows for people to feed the homeless in a safe and healthy manner. According to the press release, City staff is researching the way other cities address compassionate efforts to refine San Antonio’s approach toward feeding the homeless.

Staff will present these findings and recommendations to the committee in August, and again to the full City Council this fall.

Af of Tuesday night, 66,379 people have signed a petition in favor of The Chow Train’s mission.

“The community of San Antonio has spoken,” Cheever said, adding that she thought the City didn’t have a case against her.

Joan Cheever prepares soup for donation. Photo by Scott Ball.
Joan Cheever prepares soup as part of a free meal in Maverick Park. Photo by Scott Ball.

“They were trying to intimidate and bully The Chow Train and every good Samaritan in the city where there are thousands of good Samaritans,” she said.

The City is inviting Cheever and others to participate in a summit in late July to gather input from community members on “how best to coordinate services and improve access.”

“I have been talking to the City of San Antonio for the past six years. I am a little tired of talking. I would like action,” Cheever said.

She said the City violated the U.S. Constitution and both the federal and Texas Religious Freedom and Restoration Act.

“(The City) knows they are subject to a federal civil lawsuit so talk is cheap to me,” Cheever said.

She said it is time to stop the hate.

“Why they made the Chow Train’s life hell for the past 13 weeks, I don’t know,” she said. “But it’s time to stop all of this and it is time to protect all of the good Samaritans in this city, not just the Chow Train.”

*Featured/top image: Joan Cheever drives to Maverick Park every Tuesday night to feed the homeless. Photo by Scott Ball.  

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Joan Vinson

Former Rivard Report Assistant Editor Joan Vinson is a San Antonio native who graduated from The University of Texas with a bachelor's degree in journalism. She's a yoga fanatic and an adventurer at heart....