City leaders: Father Bob Caudill's soup kitchen has to go

OAKLAND PARK, Fla. – Father Bob Caudill's soup kitchen, at the All Saint's Mission in Oakland Park, has to go, say city leaders. Now Caudill, known as Father Bob, is fighting back.

"I started the soup kitchen; it just happened," Caudill said. "Church people were knocking on the door asking for food."

Since 1994, Caudill has been preparing food inside the soup kitchen on Powerline Road. Homeless, sick, unemployed -- are all welcome, he said. Many rely on the soup kitchen for a hot meal and shelter.

But on July 2, an ordinance passed to revitalize Powerline Road, that encourages high-density development. The soup kitchen would have to shut down by 2018.

The new rules don't ban churches or synagogues, so Caudill's worship house at All Saint's Mission can stay. But language in the ordinance bans "parish houses;" the soup kitchen falls under that category.

Caudill said his soup kitchen is the only place on the chopping block.

"They've been after us for 23 years. It's nothing new. This is their last-ditch effort to get rid of us," he said.

Caudill's soup kitchen has received criticism from some neighbors.

Judy Tavory, who runs the travel agency a block away, said homeless people from the soup kitchen have scattered nails on her driveway and have made threats at her safety.

"I find them sleeping on my roof and defecating on my roof," Tavory said.

Other neighbors, however, are more forgiving.

"Anything that is going to help people that are down and out I think is a great service," said Jessica Alvarez.

"It hasn't helped my property value, but it hasn't hurt either, so I can't complain," said neighbor Danny MacDougle.

Caudill has now hired a lawyer and plans to file a lawsuit against the city of Oakland Park. He and his congregation have also taken to Facebook to raise money.

For him, fighting city hall is just another mission.

"It's time to fight -- or to pray, and to fight," Caudill said.