By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Ice Cream for Jesus gets council approval
Placeholder Image
Ice Cream for Jesus is coming to a neighborhood near you.

The Manteca City Council on a 4-1 vote Tuesday with Councilman John Harris dissenting granted Olivia Lopez Grajeda a conditional use permit to hawk ice cream from a van on Manteca streets.

Ice Cream for Jesus is the name of her business.

The matter went to the city council after Grajeda appealed a decision by Police Chief Dave Bricker to reject her request for a vendor’s license. The police chief is required under city law to reject applicants who have a criminal record that seek to secure permits for everything from massage therapists to ice cream vendors.

In Grajeda’s case she had a previous conviction for possession of controlled substances and drug paraphernalia as well as a conviction for possession of stolen property. She has also been convicted of providing false identification to a police officer. The court in the case of the drug-related convictions has agreed to essentially set them aside once she completes a certificate of rehabilitation that takes five years to obtain based  in part on staying clean and being a productive citizen.

The vendor approval is conditioned on Grajeda providing the city with proof that she had obtained a certificate of rehabilitation within 12 months.

Grajeda is a Manteca resident who already has a permit to operate an ice cream truck in Tracy. That city does not require a criminal background check prior to the issuance of a solicitor’s permit.

Grajeda has worked in the juvenile detention center until one fateful day - the use of meth offered by a “friend” - started her life in a downward spiral that ended up with her losing her job, being kidnapped, brought on depression, ruined relationships with her family, and cost her friends. She said she instantly became addicted.

“I made a mistake, “Grajeda told the council.

She even voluntarily offered to submit to monthly drug tests should the council approve her request. The council did not take her up on her offer on the drug tests.

Since her arrest Grajeda has reversed course. She has completed a degree in criminal justice and has dedicated her life to warning others - especially youth - of the dangers of meth and drug use.

That is why she intends to use her ice cream business where feasible to educate youth about the dangers of drugs.

While driving the streets of Manteca she won’t pass on anti-drug information unless asked about it. She believes the signs on her van - including “meth destroys, God restores - will prompt inquiries. Grajeda is hopeful though that her ice cream van used at church and community functions such as the Crossroads Street Fair will encourage an open dialogue especially since she intends to have various anti-meth and anti-drug material available at such times.

Ironically, she was delayed in getting her ice cream van rolling in Tracy when suspected meth users ripped off her catalytic converter, damaged windows breaking in and also stole candy and ice cream from the van.

Councilman John Harris, a probation officer for 32 years, was adamant that Grajeda fulfill her court obligation first by obtaining the certificate of rehabilitation before the city issued her permit. Councilman Vince Hernandez initially agreed noting he had some concern with kids being educated about drugs without their knowledge although Grajeda explained that would not happen.

Councilman Steve DeBrum and Councilwoman Debby Moorhead had no issue with Grajeda’s request and appeared willing to approve it outright.

Moorhead noted that she was well aware of the devastating impact of meth on people.

DeBrum noted that people “in Hollywood get second and third chances” for drug abuse in the criminal justice system and felt Grajeda was more than deserving of a second chance.

Mayor Willie Weatherford, a former Manteca police chief, noted that in order to stay clean and productive that people needed a source of legal, steady income.

It was his suggestion to go forward with a conditional use permit that got the majority of the council including Hernandez to go along.