Call it the Bonita battle of the benches. A group that gives food to needy people in a community park, is upset that the city of Bonita Springs removed tables and benches. The city says the tables were old and posed a safety hazard. Now, people getting food from the Cafe of Life have to stand around, or sit on railroad ties on the ground.
"I find it very upsetting to see the mothers and their children, sitting on the ground, while waiting to get bags of food," said Yadi Munoz, director of Cafe of Life. The program feeds people from a van, from 9:45 til 11:30 AM, Monday through Friday. The cafe uses the community park on old 41 to give away bags of food, as well as hot meals.
"The benches -- I mean, where is the love? Is there no love, no caring, in this community," asked Ron DePeppo, who gets food sometimes from the cafe.
In fact, city councilman Bill Lonkart says there is plenty of love and charity in Bonita Springs. "We have thousands of people here who help others, including many people who volunteer for the Cafe of Life," he told WINK News. "The issue was that the benches and tables were a safety hazard, they were dilapidated and terrible. We had to remove them, and we gave the group advance warning."
Lonkart and other city officials are suggesting that cafe bring in its own tables and chairs, and remove them every day. The vice-chairman of the directors of the group says that would cost too much money, because they'd have to buy a large van to transport the tables and chairs.
So for now, people who come to the cafe to get food do a lot of standing around, or sitting on the ground. The city has pleaded with the group to find a permanent home-- like a storefront or unused retail space. So far, the group claims it has not found a place, so it has to use the community park for the 5-day a week food distribution.