Philando Castile Is Still Helping To Feed Kids In His City A Year After He Was Killed By Police
“It’s OK. I’m right here with you.” Those were the words Diamond Reynolds’ 4-year-old daughter spoke as she tried to comfort her mother after her mother’s boyfriend, Philando Castile, was shot several times by a St. Anthony, Minnesota, police officer while sitting in his car. Sadly, Castile would become the second of three black men to die at the hands of a law enforcement officer that week, but his death — which was live-streamed on Facebook by Reynolds — would haunt the country and spark weeks of nationwide protests.
Soon after he was killed, Castile’s coworkers at J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet School in St. Paul came forward to remember the gentle cafeteria manager who “loved the kids” and “always made sure that they had what they needed.” “Mr. Phil,” as the children called him, knew every student by name, remembered their allergies, and made them feel special. Castile would even pay for a child’s lunch if they couldn’t afford it. His death left a gaping hole at the school — a hole they’re still trying to fill.
To honor Castile’s memory and his love for the students, Pam Fergus, a professor at a local college, decided to create Philando Feeds the Children, a fundraising campaign to help pay off school lunch debt for elementary school students across St. Paul and its neighboring cities.
“In memory of Philando Castile, this site is collecting donations to pay off elementary school kids' lunch debt. The J.J. Hill school is several thousand dollars short. Some kids get free lunch, but many kids come from families with incomes slightly above the cut off. They get behind in payments, and need our help,” Fergus wrote back in August when the campaign began. “Philando's death affected every one of those kids. This fund hopes to provide the kids with a lasting connection to Mr. Phil.”
Within five days, Fergus raised twice as much as her initial $5,000 goal, and two months later, people have contributed more than $75,000 — enough to cover the school lunch debt for all of the students in St. Paul public schools, which totals around $60,000 annually.
Nationally, about 75% of school districts had students with unpaid lunch debt last year; in St. Paul, about 2,000 of the district’s 29,000 students owe money. The district’s nutrition services director, Stacy Koppen, said Fergus’ crowdfunding campaign is not only extremely helpful, but also a fitting tribute to Castile’s memory.
“It means a lot to me because the integrity of the lunch program is protected and the quality of our food is not at risk,” she told the StarTribune. “It is a very touching tribute to him for something he felt passionate about.”
Fergus and Castile’s mother, Valerie Castile, presented the first check to J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet School, and Fergus has vowed to continue the fundraising campaign because “kids gotta eat every every semester.”
Top and share image via Fibonacci Blue/Flickr.
San Francisco Is The First U.S. City To Make Community College Free To All Residents A similar program in Tennessee is seeing positive results.
Print Still Matters — Especially For Students A new series of studies finds that reading from screens isn't great for classroom success.
This Group Is Tackling LGBTQ Youth Suicide Rates, One Text Message At A Time “It's a really critical issue for LGBTQ young people, and it's even more pressing and alarming in the current political climate.”
Why Some German Kindergartens Are Going Toy-Free Sounds cruel, doesn't it?
Study Shows Education Can Reduce Risk Of Alzheimer’s Disease “Older people who aren’t in the position to go back to school can reduce their Alzheimer’s risk by working longer.”
You’ll Need More Than Perfect Grades To Get Into America’s Top Universities “We should discard the notion that admissions is a meritocratic process that selects the 'best' 18-year-olds who apply to a selective university.”
Trump May Be The Reason More Students Are Choosing Historically Black Colleges And Universities “The atmosphere at HBCUs offer a space for students to grow and learn without necessarily having to factor that into their college experiences. It’s a safe space in a time where safety concerns and racial tension cannot be denied.”
American Children Continue To Fall Behind The Rest Of The World In Reading Comprehension The United States simply isn’t maintaining the same rate of progress that other countries are.
Lyft Wants To Help Its Drivers Finish College The ridesharing company is partnering with Guild Education to offer thousands of dollars in tuition discounts to drivers.