Chico and Debbie Jimenez run a Christian outreach group, Spreading the Word Without Saying a Word Ministry, in Daytona Beach, Florida.
Every Wednesday for more than a year, the pair have been feeding an assembled crowd of the hungry at Manatee Island Park. The meals – which serve 100-plus people – are entirely funded by private donations and staffed with volunteers. May 7, though, the pair got a lot more than grateful smiles for their efforts.
Daytona Beach is one of a few cities with ordinances on the books that prevent individuals from serving food in public. So Wednesday, police officers crashed the long line of people waiting for Chico and Debbie’s meals and served citations to the pair and their volunteers.
According to their Facebook page, Chico and Debbie, along with four volunteers, were each given multiple citations, totaling $373 per person, $2,238 for the group, along with a permanent ban from the park. “We both have made a lot of of good friends in the park and are devastated that we are banned … I am heartbroken,” Debbie wrote.
Police Chief Mike Chitwood told the Daytona Beach News-Journal, “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.”
The Jimenezes have announced via their Facebook page that they intend to challenge the citations.