by Heather Clark
Christian News Network
Joan Cheever has operated the Chow Train since 2005, a nonprofit organization that feeds the hungry and homeless in the San Antonio area. Her food truck, which carries hot, restaurant-quality meals to between 25-75 people each week, is licensed by the city to provide a service to the public.
However, this past April, Cheever utilized her personal pickup truck to the deliver the meals, as she believed that her food truck was too wide to make it down the alleyways in search of the homeless.
As a result, she was approached by officers with the San Antonio Police Department, who asked to see her food permit. She produced the document, but the officer said that her permit only applied to the food truck and not her pickup and therefore, she was in violation of city ordinances regarding the feeding of the homeless.
Cheever said that the concept was nonsensical as even pizza delivery drivers deliver food out of their personal vehicles. She also asserted that regardless of which truck is utilized, she believes that her activities are protected under the U.S. Constitution—specifically her First Amendment right to exercise her religion.
“[One officer] said, ‘You think I’m infringing upon your right to practice your religion?’” Cheever recalled to the Washington Post. “Then he said, ‘Lady, if you want to pray, go to church...’”