Philando Feeds the Children, the Minnesota-based fund that continues the charitable work of Philando Castile, who was killed in 2016 by a police officer during a routine traffic stop, has cleared the lunch debt of every student in Saint Paul Public Schools, it’s been widely reported.
Pam Fergus, a psychology professor at Metropolitan State University, started the fund as an online crowdfunding venture that set a modest goal of $5,000, NBC News reported in October.
The campaign quickly soared to $75,000—but it has since raised $107,000, according to CNN—but may now be even higher.
Fergus told the news outlet that the charity campaign will end only when families no longer have to struggle “to pay for school lunch—and when Castile’s legacy of love—rather than his violent death …—becomes the first thing people think about when they hear his name.”
“I don’t know how much it would take to help the whole state of Minnesota,” Fergus is quoted as saying in the CNN post. “There is no end goal. Basically, I want a million bucks in there,” she said, speaking of the fund.
Castile Would Approve
There’s no doubt that Castile would approve of the charitable effort done in his name. News outlets have reported that in his work as a nutrition services supervisor at J.J. Hill Montessori School, Castile frequently helped students pay for lunch with his own money.
According to NBC News, Castile maintained “great relationships with staff and students alike,” quoting a statement from Saint Paul Public Schools, which also describes Castile as “… smart, over-qualified…. quiet, respectful, and kind.”
On average, it costs $400 a year to pay for lunch for one student, says Stacy Koppen, director of the district’s nutrition services, who is quoted in the NBC News piece.
“This fund really speaks to exactly who Philando Castile was as a passionate school nutrition leader,” she says.
Philando Feeds the Children is providing a needed service. Until school lunch debts are cleared, students and their families cannot apply for free or reduced-price lunches—talk about a Catch-22.
Fergus, who started the campaign, told Castile in an open letter in December that his spirit is moving to change the issue of “lunch-shaming,”—the embarrassment children feel when their family cannot afford lunch, CNN reports.
In October, Valerie Castile, Castile’s mother, presented the fund’s first check to the school where Castile had worked.
“This project means the world to me,” she is quoted as saying in the NBC News piece.