What is the world coming to when a 90-year-old veteran is arrested and fined for doing something likeâ€¦feeding the homeless? Unfortunately, this is a true story and it happened right here in Americaâ€¦more than once.
Arnold Abbott, known as “Chef Arnold” to many, believes it is his life’s mission to use his talents to help others. The government says the man is committing a crime by doing so. For more than twenty years now, this cheery little man has been using his culinary gifts to serve four course meals to the needy. Last weekend, as he and two local ministers served gourmet meals to the homeless in their community, they were arrested.
“One of the police officers said, ‘Drop that plate right now,’ as if I were carrying a weapon,”
Chef Arnold told reporters. He and the two ministers, Dwayne Black and Mark Sims are now facing up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. They were charged with breaking an ordinance that restricts public feeding of the homeless. Black said he’s willing to face arrest if it means standing up to such ordinances.
Fifty-six year old Eddie Hidalgo, who lost his job two years ago and has had to live on the streets ever since doesn’t agree with the way these “angels of mercy” were treated.
“Thank God for Chef Arnold. I haven’t eaten all day. He feeds a lot of people from the heart.”
The threat of persecution to themselves didn’t stop the trio and their volunteers from continuing to help those in need. On Wednesday night they were at it again, albeit videotaped by police as they fed chicken and veggies in broccoli sauce and cubed ham and pasta with Chef Arnold’s special “beautiful white onion celery sauce” to hungry people. Nearly 100 homeless people cheered them as they arrived. An AP staff member says she watched as Chef Arnold was called over to a police cruiser “where an officer wrote up something and handed Abbott a copy as he stood by.” It turns out the 90-year-old veteran had been served a citation on the charge of breaking ordinance. He was also fingerprinted on site. The police department had no comment. Chef Arnold’s take?
“I’m grateful that they allowed us to feed the people before they gave us the citation.”
Homelessness, especially of our veterans, is an ever-increasing problem in the country despite millions of vacant homes available nationwide. Add to that the harsher winters the country has been experiencing and you have an ever-increasing number of transients heading south to warmer climes. Government officials, residents and most businesses, instead of seeing a need and helping people get back on their feet, would rather complain about the looks of the homeless dirtying up their beautiful parks and beaches and punishing anyone who tries to help. So the city passed an ordinance long after midnight last week banning people from leaving belongings unattended, outlawing panhandling at medians, and strengthening defecation and urination laws, as well as outlawing public feedings. Fort Lauderdale is not the only city passing selfish laws like this. In Houston, volunteers have to have written consent to feed the homeless in public or they will be fined $2000. In Columbia, South Carolina, volunteers must pay a $150 permit fee more than two weeks in advance of feeding the homeless. And according to the National Coalition for the Homeless, 21 other cities have prohibited “food sharing” with the homeless since January 2013.
Chef Arnold not only does his best to get a good meal into hungry bellies, he does everything he can to get these people back on their feet and make them productive citizens once again. He runs a non-profit organization called Love Thy Neighbor Inc. and states that
“it’s our right to feed people. It’s our First Amendment right and I believe in the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man and we should be allowed to feed our fellow man.”
Love Thy Neighbor Inc. trains the very people it serves in the culinary arts. A statement on the website Love Thy Neighbor, Culinary Training states:
“We enlist temporarily-housed homeless individuals, train them in every aspect of cooking and sanitation, and provide them with a career with no limits. At course end, the trainees can continue without cost to McFatter Technical Center for advanced culinary studies, or we can help them secure good jobs in Florida’s burgeoning restaurant industry, where in Broward County are over 45,000 jobs available.”
It seems the government would rather give hand outs to the chosen few who are rarely needy and rarely legal, which builds resentment, anger, and hatred for fellow-man than encourage people to give and help those in their community who are truly in need, which builds respect and love for fellow-man and knits communities closer together as a whole. It would seem the government would rather forcefully take the earnings of hard-working individuals and distribute it to mostly lazy or illegal people instead of encouraging the free, from-the-heart giving of kind people to truly needy members of the community. Nowâ€¦why on earth would they want thatâ€¦?