A fundraising campaign that was started to honor the memory of school-cafeteria supervisor Philando Castile has raised enough money to pay off school lunch debt for all students in the St. Paul, Minn., public school system for at least one year.
As of Tuesday morning, the “Philando Feeds the Children” fundraiser had gotten more than $74,000 in donations for the purpose of ensuring that no student would have a lunch debt in the St. Paul Public Schools district. WCCO-TV reports that Castile’s mother, Valerie Castile, helped present a check to J.J. Hill Montessori on Friday.
Philando Castile worked in the school’s cafeteria and was known to pay for students’ lunches out of his own pocket when they couldn’t afford it. Castile, 32, was shot and killed by former St. Anthony, Minn., Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez during a traffic stop in July 2016.
Inver Hills Community College professor Pam Fergus—who started the fundraiser with students in her diversity-and-ethics class—told WCCO in August that she was moved by Castile’s death, and she wanted his generosity and his caring for students to continue.
While some students are eligible for free lunch, many aren’t. The ones who don’t qualify often incur a lunch debt.
“No child goes hungry, so we ensure that every student has breakfast and also lunch, whether they can pay or not,” Stacy Koppen, nutritional services director for the St. Paul Public Schools, told WCCO in August. “Lunches just for one elementary student are about $400 a year.”
That $400 has been taken care of for every student in the district for at least one year, thanks to the fundraiser.
Valerie Castile told WCCO that she hopes this campaign will inspire other communities to start similar fundraising efforts.
“We as a community have to work together in order for things to work,” she said. “This would’ve meant everything to him.”
Read more at CBS Minnesota.