1969 - Black Panther Party stars a breakfast program for kids
The Free Breakfast for Children Program was the first Survival Programs the original Black Panther Party created. It was started on January 1969 at a small Catholic church in the Fillmore district of San Francisco, and spread to many cities in America where there were Black Panther Party chapters. The Program became so popular that by the end of the year, the original Black Panther Party set up kitchens in cities across the nation, feeding over 10,000 children each and every day. Through this program, the Black Panther Party under this program provided a free breakfasts for thousands of children before they went to school. The Black Panther Party believed that "Children cannot reach their full academic potential if they have empty stomachs." Thousands of poor and hungry children were fed free breakfasts every day by the Free Breakfast for Children Program.
In addition to the Free Breakfast for Children Program of the Black Panther Party created and provides several other Survival Programs such as:
People’s Free Ambulance Service
The service provided free, rapid transportation for sick or injured people without time-consuming checks into the patients’ financial status or means. The People’s Free Ambulance Service operated with at least one ambulance on a 24-hour emergency basis, and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on a non-emergency or convalescent basis.People were transported to and from the hospital or doctor’s office in a modern, comfortable ambulance by courteous, efficient and knowledgeable attendants.
Free Food Program
This program provided free food to Black and other oppressed people. The intent of the Free Food Program was to supplement the groceries of Black and poor people until economic conditions allowed them to purchase good food at reasonable prices. The Free Food Program provided two basic services to the community: 1. An ongoing supply of food to meet their daily needs. 2. Periodic mass distributions of food to reach a larger segment of the community than can be serviced from the ongoing supply. The community was provided with bags of fresh food containing items such as eggs, canned fruits and vegetables, chickens, milk, potatoes, rice, bread, cereal and so forth. A minimum of a week’s supply of food was included in each bag.
Seniors Against a Fearful Environment (SAFE)
SAFE, a nonprofit corporation, was started by the Black Panther Party at the request of a group of senior citizens for the purpose of preventing muggings and attacks upon the elderly, particularly when they go out to cash their Social Security or pension checks. Prior to approaching the Black Panther Party, the seniors had gone to the Oakland Police Department to request protection. There the seniors were told that they “should walk close to the curb” in the future, according to a Panther report by David Hilliard, who served as the Party’s chief of staff. The program offered free transportation and escort services to the residents of the Satellite Senior Homes, a residential complex for the elderly in Oakland, California.
The original Black Panther Party developed a series of social programs to provide needed services to the people, in addition to these Survival Programs listed above. Their intent was to promote "a model for an alternative, more humane social scheme." These Survival Programs, of which there came to be more than 60, were operated by Black Panther Party members under the slogan "survival pending revolution." Their intent was to promote "a model for an alternative, more humane social scheme."
The thousands of Sisters & Brothers in the Party, who made our Survival Programs work successfully, were the real heroes of the original Black Panther Party.