Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

"It took seven years, but Fort Lauderdale Food Not Bombs' federal civil liberties lawsuit against Fort Lauderdale for banning food sharings is finally concluding," the group said on January 3, 2022.

"It took seven years, but Fort Lauderdale Food Not Bombs' federal civil liberties lawsuit against Fort Lauderdale for banning food sharings is finally concluding," the group said on January 3, 2022. (Photo: Ft. Lauderdale Food Not Bombs/Facebook)

After 7 Years, Anti-War Group That Fed the Hungry Wins Fight With Fort Lauderdale

"We outlived and outmaneuvered the old mayor, city manager, and city attorney, who were all intent on policing us and the homeless out of existence," said the local chapter of Food Not Bombs.

Kenny Stancil

Anti-hunger and anti-war activists in Florida have reportedly won their protracted legal fight against the city government of Fort Lauderdale, which agreed to compensate the local chapter of Food Not Bombs after spending years trying to prevent the group from sharing free food with people in need at a downtown park.

"Nuts to all the narrow-minded fools who wanted to be rid of us."

"It took seven years, but Fort Lauderdale Food Not Bombs' federal civil liberties lawsuit against Fort Lauderdale for banning food sharings is finally concluding," the group said Monday in a statement. "After we won our second appeal in August 2021, the city has accepted a settlement that admits they were wrong to enforce the park rule against us and will pay us a small amount of damages. They will also have to pay our lawyers a great deal more!"

Last August, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th District ruled unanimously that "a rule limiting food-sharing inside Fort Lauderdale parks is unconstitutional as applied to Food Not Bombs' hosting of free vegan meals for the homeless," the Courthouse News Service reported at the time.

According to the outlet:

A three-judge panel of the Atlanta-based appeals court overturned a Florida federal court's summary judgment in favor of the city, finding that a rule which banned the sharing of food as a social service in city parks without written permission violated Food Not Bombs' First Amendment rights.

Fort Lauderdale Park Rule 2.2 requires city permission for social service food-sharing events in all Fort Lauderdale parks and allows officials to charge as much as $6,000 for the permitting process.

In a 64-page ruling issued Tuesday, the panel determined the rule cannot lawfully qualify as a "valid regulation" of Food Not Bombs' expressive conduct due to its "utterly standardless permission requirement."

In its statement, Fort Lauderdale Food Not Bombs said that the favorable settlement is "on top of the victories this lawsuit already accomplished in years' prior, including the 2018 appeals ruling that ruled that the original sharing ban law was unconstitutional—[...] creating a strongly worded precedent about sharing food as protected free speech."

"We had to bite our tongues a lot over the years to see how this would play out, but no more," the group continued. "We outlived and outmaneuvered the old mayor, city manager, and city attorney, who were all intent on policing us and the homeless out of existence."

"Let's not forget multiple FLPD chiefs and captains who sent their goons to stalk and arrest us, all gone now!" the group added. "Nuts to all the narrow-minded fools who wanted to be rid of us."

Decrying government efforts to crack down on those who feed the poor, Keith McHenry—co-founder of Food Not Bombs, which uses surplus ingredients that would otherwise be thrown away to provide vegetarian meals to people in more than 1,000 cities in 65 countries across the world—told the Institute for Public Accuracy on Wednesday that "sharing free food with the hungry is an unregulated gift of love."

McHenry—currently in Houston, where another local chapter is risking arrest by refusing to comply with a city ordinance that seeks to move meal distribution from outside the downtown library to a parking lot near the courthouse—noted that in addition to worsening poverty, the coronavirus crisis has made obtaining assistance more difficult, underscoring the importance of Food Not Bombs.

"While most indoor soup kitchens shut down during the pandemic," he said, "Food Not Bombs continued to share with the unhoused."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Leaked Report Suggests Impunity for IDF Troops in Deadly Stop of Palestinian-American Elder

"This is a policy: Israel does not prosecute those responsible for harming Palestinians, thus making their lives miserable," said the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem.

Brett Wilkins ·


'Exactly Right': Progressives Back Arizona Dems Censure of Sinema

"If you are a Democrat and you can't uphold the fundamental right to vote for all citizens... then there's a problem," said Rep. Ro Khanna.

Brett Wilkins ·


Amid Existential Threat to Reproductive Rights, Congress Urged to Act

"It's the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and if we don't fight like hell it could very well be the last," said one campaigner, who called on U.S. lawmakers to pass the Women's Health Protection Act.

Brett Wilkins ·


Black Mississippi State Senators Stage Walkout as Critical Race Theory Ban Passed

"We cannot continue to stumble into the future backwards," said one Black senator who taught for 33 years. "That's what this bill does."

Brett Wilkins ·


Buddhist Monk and Peace Activist Thích Nhất Hạnh Dead at 95

"He inspired so many good people to dedicate themselves to working for a more just and compassionate world."

Jessica Corbett ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo