St. Louis, Missouri:
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Free Food Program
"Continuing the work"
I am committed to feeding the community beyond breakfast and summertime.
It gives me great joy to re-introduce such a needed mutual aid program.
Formally, The Free Breakfast Program, in addition to free summer breakfast, The Free Food Program will add Community Holiday Dinners + Holiday Food Box Giveaways as new services for the communities we serve.
This FFP Section will go in depth for each service provided, meal statistical information, the inspirational + educational blueprint from the Original Black Panther Party and will highlight the volunteer + organizational work it took to serve 650+ children over the course of 3 consecutive summers.
This work would not be possible without the community.
THANK YOU for the support!
Free Summer Breakfast
The Black Panther Party’s Free Breakfast Program began in January 1969 at St. Augustine Church in Oakland, California.
From 1969 through the early 1970s, the Black Panthers’ Free Breakfast for School Children Program fed thousands of underserved children. It was one of the 40+ social programs created by the Party and ultimately helped contribute to the existence of federal free breakfast programs today.
Churches were ideal spaces for food programs because they were community hubs that often had kitchens and could accommodate meal service.
Black Panther Party members and volunteers went to local grocery stores to accumulate donations, consulted with nutritionists on salubrious breakfast options for children, and prepared + served the food all free of charge.
School officials immediately reported results in kids who had free breakfast before school.
“The school principal came down and told us how different the children were,” Ruth Beckford, a parishioner who helped with the program.
50+ years later post program implementation, 1 in 7 people in the U.S. face hunger every year. The rates of hunger in children are even higher, with about 1 in 5 lacking proper access to food at some point during the year according to Feeding America.
Why is it important for this program to exist?
Many children living in underserved areas depend on free (or reduced) breakfast and lunch provided by their specific school. When school concludes and summer begins, this means food may be limited depending on many factors that are rooted in poverty, lack of access and limited resources.
Athlos Academies gives us the following facts pertaining to breakfast and academic performance + behavioral actions.
Students who eat breakfast show improved attendance, behavior, and academic performance, as well as decreased tardiness.
Students who skip breakfast show increased errors and have slower memory recall.
Children who eat breakfast at school—closer to class and test-taking time—perform better on standardized tests than those who skip breakfast.
Students who eat breakfast the morning of a standardized test have significantly higher scores in spelling, reading, and math compared to those students who do not eat breakfast.
Student academic achievement increases, especially for math, when schools offer the School Breakfast Program.
Children and adolescents who skip breakfast tend to have poorer nutrient intakes than those who eat breakfast. Eating breakfast regularly has been linked with greater intake of fiber, calcium, iron, vitamin C, and other vitamins and minerals, and lower intake of fat, cholesterol, and sodium.
School breakfast has been linked with fewer visits to the school nurse, particularly in the morning.
Children and adolescents experiencing hunger have lower math scores and lower grades.
Children who participate in school breakfast are more likely to consume fruit and milk at breakfast.
Children and adolescents who eat breakfast have more favorable weight-related outcomes (e.g., lower BMI, lower waist circumference, lesser likelihood of being chronically obese, decreased risk of obesity) in the short term and long term than those who skip breakfast.
Children who eat breakfast show improved cognitive function, attention, and memory.
Community Holiday Dinners + Holiday Food Box Giveaway
During the holiday season, we will cook and serve meals for those in need with the Community Holiday Dinner service. In addition, 100 Holiday Food Boxes will be given with our Holiday Food Box Giveaway.
Community Holiday Dinners
Date: Saturday, November 20, 2021
Location: Mt. Carmel Baptist Church
Date: Friday, December 24th
Location: The Common
Holiday Food Box Giveaway
Date: Sunday, November 21, 2021
Location: Mt. Carmel Baptist Church
Food Box Items:
Fresh Collard Greens
During a time when many have the pressure of the holiday season, my goal is to create a home-like space that is rooted in community, laughter, food and love. It is my belief that food is not a privilege and should not be treated as such. It is a necessity that is needed now more than ever given the current pandemic and holiday season.
Join me in my call to action to serve, lead and feed.
Jeneisha C. Harris
Free Food Program
Summer 2021: Nashville, Tennessee
Mt. Carmel Baptist Church
Number of children served: 110+ children
St. Louis, Missouri
Family Services and Center
Number of children served: 40+ children