Philando Castile, who was killed by a police officer in July 2016, was known among St. Paul, Minnesota for his generosity. As nutrition supervisor at the J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet School, Castile would often cover the costs of students' meals out of his own pocket if their families couldn't afford the cost. In that spirit, a Minnesota-based college professor has launched the Philando Feeds the Children initiative.
"Lunches just for one elementary student are about $400 a year," Stacy Koppen, Nutritional Services Director for St Paul Public Schools (SPPS), told WCCO. While Koppen explained that "no child goes hungry" regardless of their ability to pay, students whose family income places them just outside of free lunch eligibility often end up being in debt to the school.
Philando Feeds the Children, started by Inver Hills Community College professor Pam Fergus, has—at the time of this article's publication—raised more than $17,000 from nearly 600 donors. "[Philando Castile's] death changed who I am," Fergus said. Philando's mother, Valerie, will match the total amount of donations using money from the Philando Castile Relief Fund.
Castile was killed by St. Anthony cop Jeronimo Yanez after being pulled over in the St. Paul-area suburb Falcon Heights. Diamond Reynolds, Castile's girlfriend, live-streamed the immediate moments following the harrowing shooting on Facebook. Castile's death sparked a wave of protests, again highlighting persisting issues in policing. Yanez was later acquitted of manslaughter charges.
"My son loved this city and this city killed my son and let the murderer get away," Valerie Castile told reporters after hearing the verdict.
For more information on Philando Feeds the Children, visit the donation website.