In Some Cities, Handing Out Food to the Needy Can Get You a Fine

| by Lina Batarags

The Florida couple that started a Christian outreach group and has been feeding the needy every week for more than a year has been fined more than $700 for their good deeds.

Chico and Debbie Jimenez run the outreach group Spreading the Word Without Saying a Word Ministry. Every Wednesday, they hand out food to the needy in a Daytona Beach park. Both Chico and Debbie left their jobs more than a year ago so they could focus their full efforts on ministry.

The couple receives no money for the good deed; instead, they simple believe that helping the poor is their religious duty.

They have been providing more than 100 people with hearty lunches like chicken patties, macaroni salads and fresh vegetables on a weekly basis for more than a year.

All funding for these lunches is provided entirely by private donations; the events are staffed with volunteers.

Unfortunately, Daytona Beach is one of multiple cities across the U.S. that has enacted an ordinance that bars individuals from serving food in public.

Last week, volunteers weren’t the only ones joining the Jimenezes at Manatee Island Park, where a long line of people had formed to receive a meal: nearly half a dozen police officers also showed up.

The officers proceeded to serve each of the Jimenezes and four of the volunteers with multiple second degree misdemeanor citations, not to mention $2,238 total in fines for the group.

Furthermore, the group was permanently banned from Manatee Island Park.

As Police Chief Mike Chitwood said, “The ordinance is there, so if we catch you, we’re going to cite you.”

“If you want to feed people, and you want to do a good, Christian act, we encourage you to coordinate with the social service agencies,” Chitwood added.

The Jimenezes have said that they do not plan to pay the citations; instead, they plan to challenge them.

“We are ‘NOT criminals’ and feeding ‘hungry folks’ is not a crime,” the couple said.


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