Joan Cheever didn’t back down when she received her first ticket in April for feeding the homeless and she isn’t backing down now.
When Cheever appeared before a municipal court judge on Tuesday morning she was offered a plea bargain, but she didn’t take it. She plead not guilty and her jury trial was set for Sept. 23.
“I would like for the people of San Antonio to decide whether or not this is a crime,” Cheever said Thursday.
Cheever, an attorney and chef, received a citation and cease and desist order on April 7 from the San Antonio Police Department. The citation, which could carry a fine of up to $2,000, was issued because the permit for her nonprofit food truck, the Chow Train, does not extend to the truck she uses to distribute the meals.
For the past eight years Cheever has prepared restaurant quality meals in the Chow Train, a process that takes a day and a half, packs the food in Health Department approved catering equipment, and drives to Maverick Park in a pickup truck on Tuesdays to disperse the food to the working poor and homeless.
One of Cheever’s friends started a Change.org petition which has received 65,127 signatures of support as of Thursday afternoon.
Cheever has distributed food to the homeless at Maverick Park 13 times since her first ticket on April 7 and she plans to continue her efforts.
“The citizens haven’t decided whether or not this is a crime. So I’m going to continue feeding the homeless and working poor of San Antonio until the jury tells me that what I’m doing – what the Chow Train is doing, what every good Samaritan is doing – is a crime,” she said.
Cheever said her case represents every “good Samaritan” in San Antonio who feeds the homeless.
“I’m just the one that got the ticket so I feel like I’m fighting for everybody in San Antonio who doesn’t want to turn their back on their neighbor or turn a blind eye to someone in need,” she said.
*Featured/top image: Joan Cheever prepares soup as part of a free meal in Maverick Park. Photo by Scott Ball.