LAKELAND, Fla. — You’d be hard pressed to find someone who enjoys walking around Munn Park more than Jeff Spears.

What You Need To Know

  • Feed My Sheep CFL is a nonprofit organization that feeds homeless people in Lakeland

  • Spokesperson Jeff Spears, is a former homeless person who has a passion for helping people in need

  • Spears is hoping the city of Lakeland changes a potential ordinance that would limit events to feed homeless people at Munn Park to two times a year

  • The city, according to Spears, was receptive to his suggestions and he says they plan to get in touch with him for help on potentially reworking the proposed ordinance

“It’s a beautiful park,” Spears said. “Isn’t it nice and calm and restful and relaxing?”

Not only because of its tranquility but because he gets to speak with folks that are near and dear to his heart.

“Good to see you, brother, good to see you,” Spears said to a person sitting on a bench at Munn Park. “I send your picture to your sister all the time. She loves you.”

Spears meets with people who are homeless at this park. 

It’s sort of a gathering place because this spot, four times a year, is where Jeff’s organization, Feed My Sheep CFL, holds outreach events.

They provide food and entertainment with a message of care and love.

“There are organizations,” Spears said. “There are things out here that are available to help you get off of the street.”

Spears said this quarterly event may be in jeopardy.

According to him, the city is looking at an ordinance that would limit permitted feeding events to just twice a year, cutting Feed My Sheep’s opportunities to help those in need by half.

“I checked with Parks and Rec and they said we’re the only organization that fills out the contract, pays the fees and rents the park,” Spears said.

He said part of the reason this ordinance is being discussed is other organizations do events here but don’t go through the proper channels to acquire permits or make sure the park is clean after it’s used.

“We pay to rent the park,” Spears said, “so we cover the park. We’re required to get insurance.”

It doesn’t come cheap, costing Feed My Sheep over $1,000 each time. Spears knows the struggles people face when they don’t have a place to call home on a personal level.

“I’m a former homeless man,” Spears said. “I’ve been homeless three times.”

Which is why, on March 6, he decided to go to the city commissioner’s meeting to voice his concerns.

“What I would like to propose is, first off,” Spears said during the meeting, “you not create an ordinance that only affects the one organization that is doing the job correctly.”

“In my organization, they were like, well, we’ll see what happens,” Spears said. “Well, I’m not a wait and see what happens kind of person or I’d still be homeless.”

It’s an attitude city officials say they appreciate.

“We want to be a caring community in the city of Lakeland and we appreciate you’re following the guidelines that have already been set forth,” Sara McCarley, Lakeland’s Mayor Pro Tem, said.

In response to his comments, the city said they plan on getting in contact with him to make sure the ordinance doesn’t hinder his organization while making sure that other groups follow the same guidelines for the future.

“We’ll make sure to connect with you to continue this dialogue,” McCarley said.

“I was very happy with the feedback,” said Spears.

He’s hopeful that this park he loves so much will continue to be a beacon for people looking for some fellowship and food.

Spears says the city has told him they would give him a call soon to discuss potential changes to the ordinance.

He says Feed My Sheep CFL plans on having an event at Munn Park on April 29.