Children who don’t qualify for free lunch but live in financially strapped families often cannot afford to pay for school meals. A new fund to inspired by Philando Castile, a former school cafeteria supervisor, will help to ensure those students don’t go hungry.
Castile, who worked at the J.J. Hill Montessori school cafeteria, was fatally shot during a traffic stop in July 2016 by a St. Anthony, Minnesota police officer who was acquitted.
“When a student couldn’t pay for their lunch, a lot of times (Castile) actually paid for their lunch out of his own pocket,” Stacy Koppen, nutritional services director for St. Paul Public Schools, told the CBS News affiliate.
Koppen added that elementary school students pay about $400 a year for lunch, and many families cannot afford that price tag.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, children and adults were “food insecure” in about 7.8 percent of American households in 2015, that amounts to about 3 million households.
Pam Fergus, a professor at Inver Hills Community College who teaches a Diversity and Ethics course, launched the fundraising campaign.
Fergus told the news outlet that she didn’t think people would contribute more than about $5,000 to the fund, which reached $12,710 by Friday morning—with 90 days remaining in the campaign.
Castile’s mother, Valerie Castile, told WCCO that she will match the final fundraising total. The Castile family reached a $3 million settlement with St. Anthony for her son’s death.
“She said the only thing I want for my son is for people to remember him with honor and dignity,” Fergus said, recalling a conversation to WCCO that she had with Valerie Castile.