Philando Castile was known as a caring man at the St. Paul, Minn., school where he worked as a cafeteria supervisor. He cared so much for the children he served that he often paid for their lunches himself when they were unable to, and now, thanks to a local college professor, that generosity will continue through a fund that has been created in Castile’s name.
Castile worked at J.J. Hill Montessori, where some students are eligible for free lunches but some aren’t, and when those students are unable to come up with the money, they end up running a debt, according to WCCO.
“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. “Lunches just for one elementary student are about $400 a year.”
Before Castile was killed last summer by now-former St. Anthony, Minn., Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez during a traffic stop, he was always ready to help students who were in need, Koppen told WCCO.
“When a student couldn’t pay for their lunch, a lot of times [Castile] actually paid for their lunch out of his own pocket,” Koppen said.
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Inver Hills Community College professor Pam Fergus wants Castile’s generosity and caring for the students to continue.
She told WCCO, “His death changed who I am.”
Fergus normally assigns a service project to the students in her Diversity and Ethics class, but this time, she came up with one of her own: Philando Feeds the Children.
The money raised through the YouCaring fundraiser will be used to help clear lunch debts at J.J. Hill, as well as other schools.
As of Thursday night, more than $7,000 had been raised, and Castile’s mother, Valerie, told WCCO and Fergus that she plans to match the full amount raised with her own donation.
“She said the only thing I want for my son is for people to remember him with honor and dignity,” Fergus told WCCO.
St. Paul schools also has its own program that allows people to make donations to help clear lunch debts, a campaign called Food for Thought.
“That campaign helped us raise almost $40,000 [last year], and it helped almost 2,000 students wh0 couldn’t pay for their meals,” Koppen told WCCO. “This year, we have almost 900 students who currently appear that they need our help as well.”
Read more at WCCO.