Fundraiser in Philando Castile’s memory clears students’ school lunch debt

A fundraiser held in honor of Philando Castile, who was killed last year by a police officer, has brought in enough money to completely clear all student lunch debt in Minnesota’s St. Paul School District for at least one year, according to local CBS affiliate WCCO.

The fundraiser, titled “Philando Feeds The Children,” was organized by Pamela Fergus, a professor at Inver Hills Community College in Minnesota. Collecting donations online through YouCaring.com, the fundraising effort was first launched in August, and it’s raised more than $70,000 in just two months, reportedly enough to pay down all St. Paul students’ school lunch fees for a year.

Speaking to a lunchroom full of students, Fergus said the fundraiser grew from a simple idea: using Castile’s memory to help continue the legacy he built while alive, providing basic nutrition and sustenance to the children of St. Paul.

“We just had this little idea that we were going to help do Mr. Phil’s job and make sure you guys have good lunch to eat every day,” Fergus said.

Castile, 32 at the time of his death, worked as a nutrition services supervisor at J.J. Hill Montessori School, and he was reportedly a beloved figure among the student body. He was fatally shot by Officer Jeronimo Yanez during a traffic stop in the St. Paul suburb of Falcon Heights in July 2016. The immediate aftermath of the incident was streamed to the internet by Castile’s girlfriend Diamond Reynolds, drawing international attention, and fueling protests of the same sort seen after similar police killings of Black people.

Yanez was ultimately acquitted of manslaughter and reckless discharge of a firearm, avoiding any legal repercussions for Castile’s death. He was subsequently fired by the city of St. Anthony, concluding that “the public will be best served if Officer Yanez is no longer a police officer in our city.”

Chris Tognotti

Chris Tognotti

Chris Tognotti is a frequent contributor for the Daily Dot. He’s a news and current events writer based out of Berkeley, California, and a co-host of the podcast Now We Know. While he specializes in domestic politics and opinion writing, he’s also savvy on sports, video games, and film.