A Texas chef who has fed San Antonio’s homeless population for the past 10 years from a non-profit mobile food truck was suddenly cited and fined by local police for feeding the homeless.

Reuters / Andrew Innerarity

Despite the ticket being issued a week earlier, Joan Cheever, founder of a San Antonio mobile food truck called the Chow Train, was nevertheless out feeding the homeless on Tuesday. There has been an outpouring of support for Cheever after news of the ticket surfaced, which she still has to fight in court in June – and which she said she would do under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Cheever told Texas Public Radio she was inspired by the show of support.

“It warms my heart but it doesn’t surprise me because the community is behind me and they are behind every other nonprofit that does what I do and there are a lot of them,” she said.

The ticket carries a potential fine of $2,000. As a result, Cheever said she would fight the ticket under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a federal and state law that protects the free exercise of religion, which she says her charitable work qualifies for. She is due in court on June 23.

Cheever’s philanthropy is well-established and her efforts were featured on the nationally syndicated Rachel Ray cooking show in November.

Cheever's fine is the latest in a series of efforts by local governments to discourage people from feeding the homeless in public space. In Florida, Fort Lauderdale police twice arrested a 90-year old pastor last fall for feeding homeless people. In the past two years, 21 cities have restricted street feeding of homeless people, citing public safety.


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