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Oh, Florida

Florida couple feeds homeless, receives jail threat


Many people would consider Debbie and Chico Jimenez's efforts to feed the hungry a praiseworthy cause. But the Daytona Beach police have a different opinion.

The retired couple began their ministry, "Spreading the Word without a Word," nearly a year ago to help those in need. Each Wednesday, the Jimenezes provide hot dogs, chicken, pasta salad, and other food to more than 100 homeless residents of the Daytona Beach community. After local residents complained that the homeless were publicly urinating at Manatee Island Park, where the Jimenezes distribute food, police allegedly issued a warning to the couple, who continued their mission. The Jimenezes then received two citations each as well as a number of fines.

"They were told... that if they come back there, they would be cited and they could risk going to jail," Daytona Beach Police Chief Mike Chitwood told NBC News. "There is a segment of the homeless population that is homeless by choice... they are sex offenders, substance abusers, and bank robbers."

The Jimenezes claim they were never warned to stay away from the park and plan to dispute their citations in court. "How can we turn our backs on the hungry?" Debbie Jimenez told NBC News. "We can't."