A fundraiser honoring Philando Castile will help pay off kids' school lunch debts
Philando Castile was killed by a police officer during a traffic stop last year in front of his girlfriend, who live streamed it to Facebook. For way too many Americans, the death of Castile was a long overdue wake-up call to acknowledge the horrors of police brutality, given that Castile was unarmed at the time of the stop (though he informed the officer that he had a legal, registered firearm in the car at the time.) For others, it was another heartbreaking instance of violence against a person of color by law enforcement.
But Castile was known for much more than being a victim of police brutality. In St. Paul, Minnesota, many knew Castile as the guy who would pay for kids’ school lunches. To keep that legacy going, a fundraiser honoring Philando Castile will raise money for school lunch debts.
His death was tragic, but his loved ones have turned it into something beautiful.
Castile was the nutrition supervisor at the J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet School, and would often reach into his own pocket when students were behind on lunch payments. Not being able to afford a school lunch is a common problem in America, and some schools will deny a child a hot lunch altogether or “lunch shame” students by making them wear wrist bands or serving them a cold cheese sandwich instead. (The sammie is fine, but imagine eating white bread and cafeteria cheese while your friends devour a hot, nutrient-rich lunch across the table from you.)
In any case, Castile did a good thing. To honor that legacy, Inver Hills Community College professor Pam Fergus started Philando Feeds The Children to help erase families’ lunch debts. So far, the fundraising initiative has raised almost $20,000 from hundreds of donors. Valerie Castile, Philando’s mother, has pledged to match the donations from the Philando Castile Relief Fund.
No kid goes hungry exactly at Minnesota schools, but it can cost about $400 a dollar a year to pay for students’ lunches, according to HuffPost. That’s a lot of money for families living paycheck to paycheck. This fund can eradicate student lunch debt for so many kids, and we have to believe that Castile would be happy knowing how his loved ones were honoring him.
There is no way to make Castile’s death, or the deaths of countless other unarmed men and women killed by law enforcement, “right.” But donating cash to make sure more children can get through their school day with a full belly is one way to do some good and start changing a dangerous cycle.