For the past
three decades, Joan M. Cheever has been a tireless advocate for the poor,
persons without homes and those who are imprisoned, and is the author of Back
From The Dead: One Woman’s Search For the Men Who Walked Off Death Row
(John Wiley & Sons 2006), a book about imprisonment and the death penalty
in the U.S.
Cheever, an award-winning legal affairs journalist and a former managing editor of The National Law Journal, is currently in Culinary School at St. Philips College and is expected to receive her degree in Culinary Arts in May 2012. In December, she completed a 16- week culinary internship at Catholic Worker House on the East Side of San Antonio where she cooked on site, in her mobile kitchen, The Chow Train. Cheever served a three-course hot lunch for the 125+ hungry men and women who show up every Monday. On Tuesday, she serves a three-course dinner on the streets of San Antonio in various locations, to a group ranging from 40 to 100 individuals. Cheever regularly provides a hot lunch on Sundays to approximately 175 patrons of the nonprofit, Under The Bridge, where, in addition to chef duties, she serves as a member of UTB board.
Cheever has been cooking for the hungry and her “street peeps” for many years and in March 2011 she founded The Chow Train, a nonprofit food truck to serve hot, healthy and restaurant quality meals to the hungry and homeless and those individuals who are temporarily homeless like the residents of the devastated towns of Joplin, MO and those who lost their homes in the Bastrop fires.
Five days after the tornado touched down in Joplin, MO., killing 161 people, Cheever traveled to the disaster site with her three-day old trailer and her adventurous next door neighbor, and began serving breakfast, lunch and dinner to survivors, first responders and members of law enforcement. At the request of AmeriCorps, Cheever returned a month later and served more than 3,500 restaurant quality meals to the 150+ members of AmeriCorps in addition to volunteers from across the nation and residents of the devastated community.
September, Cheever traveled once again, closer to home and parked The Chow
Train in the parking lot of the Smithville Fire Department and began serving a
hot lunch and dinner to hungry and exhausted local and out of town firefighters
battling the Bastrop wildfires, volunteers and residents of the community who
had lost their homes. These people, like those in Joplin, are America’s “new
Cheever also contributes her time and expertise as a member of the advisory board of the Texas Coalition to Abolish The Death Penalty, the Peace Center of San Antonio and served as the co-chair of the recent capital campaign for Crosspoint Inc., a 48-year-old award-winning nonprofit that provides transitional housing for formerly incarcerated individuals.
Believing that food for the soul is as equally important as a hot and healthy meal, Cheever has been an active and enthusiastic supporter of the city’s libraries and serves on the Executive Committee of the San Antonio Public Library Foundation, which raises public awareness and monies for San Antonio’s 28 libraries.
Cheever, a wife and mother of two, received her Bachelor’s degree from Southern Methodist University; a Master’s in journalism from Columbia University and her law degree from St. Mary’s University. She is a member of the bar in the states of Texas, New York and Connecticut.