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The Free Breakfast for School Children Program was a community service program run by the Black Panther Party as an early manifestation of the social mission envisioned by founders Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale along with their founding of the Oakland Community School, which provided high-level education to 150 children from impoverished urban neighborhoods. Inspired by contemporary research about the essential role of breakfast for optimal schooling, the Panthers would cook and serve food to the poor inner city youth of the area. Initiated in January 1969 at St. Augustine's Church in Oakland, California, the program became so popular that by the end of the year, the Panthers set up kitchens in cities across the US, feeding over 10,000 children every day before they went to school.
The Free Breakfast Program became the central organizing activity of the group. The reach and success of the program in so many communities underscored the inadequacies of the federal government's then-flagging and underresourced lunch programs in public schools across the country. Despite its successes, Federal authorities attempted to discredit and derail the Free Breakfast Program. Among other actions, authorities raided breakfast program locations while children were eating.