LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA)- If you show up to downtown Munn Park on a Sunday afternoon, chances are you’ll be offered a free meal.
The Mad Hatter group gathers there every Sunday, serving up free food and ministry.
“We’ve been here for probably close to four years,” member Michelle Maynard said.
That’s now in jeopardy.
“We’ve never had an issue, we’ve always cleaned up after ourselves. There was mention of trash cans being filled, so we started taking our own trash bags and taking our trash with us,” Maynard told News Channel 8.
The city says they received complaints about crowds of homeless people and trash.
“We had residents and businesses downtown complain, and that’s when we started to look into it,” Cook said.
“We’re not standing at the table asking, ‘hey, are you homeless? If you are, you cannot eat here.’ This is families coming together on Sunday’s to worship,” Maynard said.
The city sent a letter asking the group to get a permit or stop holding their services.
“We’re looking at close to $500 a week just to have a meal with our friends and family.” Maynard said the group simply can’t afford that.
Despite that, they continue to meet downtown and hope it doesn’t end like a Tampa group, recently arrested for feeding the homeless.
“We’re putting it in God’s hands,” Maynard said.