“Children Can’t Learn on an Empty Stomach”: The Black Panther Party’s Free Breakfast Program

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Vol: 44, Issue: 4

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Lateef, Husain; Androff, David
Black Panthers; Free Breakfast Program; Social Welfare; Afrocentric social work; food security; community practice; Social Work
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The year 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Black Panther Party and their revolutionary approach to urban Black suffering in America. However, like many other social welfare contributions of the Black American community, the Black Panther Party’s social programs remain largely unexamined within the social work literature. To reclaim the social welfare contribution of the Black Panther Party, this paper examines the Free Breakfast for Schoolchildren Program and discusses its relevance to contemporary social work. Key aspects of the Free Breakfast Program are reviewed, including the historical context of the formation of the Black Panther Party and the breakfast program’s mission and funding, as well as reactions to the program. In conclusion, implications are presented for how social work can best support contemporary movements for Black community empowerment and social justice.