Over and over again, it has been proven that Philando Castile was a kind hearted and loving man. One thing that he often did as the cafeteria supervisor at J.J. Hill Montessori in St. Paul, MN was paid for the lunch of students who were unable to do so. “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 St. Paul Public Schools (SPPS) told WCCO.
Some students are eligible for free school lunch, but many aren’t. When students can’t pay for their lunch, they will run a debt. “Lunches just for one elementary student are about $400 a year,” Koppen said. “When a student couldn’t pay for their lunch, a lot of times (Castile) actually paid for their lunch out of his own pocket,” she said. Castile’s kind gesture moved the heart of one college professor to keep the ball rolling despite Castile’s untimely death.
Inver Hills Community College professor Pam Fergus typically assigns her students in her Diversity and Ethics class a service project, but this time created her own. “His death changed who I am,” Fergus said. Her project is called Philando Feeds the Children. The project started with a $5,000 goal that was then doubled and so far has raised over $13,800 with 90 days left to donate. Castile’s mother Valerie also told WCCO and Fergus she plans to match the final total with her own donation. “She said the only thing I want for my son is for people to remember him with honor and dignity,” said Fergus.
St. Paul Schools have also started their own campaign, Food For Thought, which allows people to make a donation to clear lunch debts.“That campaign helped us raise almost $40,000 (last year) and it helped almost 2,000 students who couldn’t pay for their meals,” said Koppen. “This year we have almost 900 students who currently appear that they need our help as well.”