INCREDIBLE! Philando Castile Fund Pays School Lunch For Whole Year!

Students in St. Paul, and soon to be most of Minnesota will receive free lunch thanks to the memory of a Black man slain in America. A memorial fund set up in honor of Philando Castile has raised enough money to pay off lunch debts at schools across St. Paul, Minnesota for one year.

If you recall, Castile was fatally shot by police officer Jeronimo Yanez in 2016 after he told the officer that he was carrying a firearm after being pulled over. According to a police dashcam video/audio, after being asked for his license and registration, Castile told the officer he had a firearm, to which the officer replied ‘Don’t reach for it then’. After saying ‘Don’t pull it out’ twice [7], the officer shot at Castile seven times while his girlfriend and four year old daughter was in the back seat. The killing ignited national discussion after videos of the shooting and its aftermath went viral. Yanez was acquitted on all charges against Castile.

Philando Feeds the Children, an online crowdfunding venture started by Metropolitan State University psychology professor Pam Fergus, had raised more than $90,000 on Tuesday afternoon — $85,000 more than the original goal of $5,000. Because of the momentum of the campaign, organizers have increased their goal to $100,000 in order to maximize their lunch debt relief efforts for students across Minnesota.

(Photo Credit: Youcaring.com Fundraising Site)

“This fund really speaks to exactly who Philando Castile was as a passionate school nutrition leader,” Stacy Koppen, director of the district’s nutrition services told NBC News.

Castile was born in St. Louis, Missouri. He graduated from Saint Paul Central High School in 2001 and worked for the Saint Paul Public School District from 2002 until his death. Castile began as a nutrition services assistant at Chelsea Heights Elementary School and Arlington High School (now Washington Technology Magnet School). He was promoted to nutrition services supervisor at J. J. Hill Montessori Magnet School, in August 2014.

According to The New York Times, Castile was affectionately known as “Mr. Phil” to the students and would often financially assist students who were not able to purchase lunches with his own money. This led Fergus to create The Philando Feeds The Children Fund in memory of his service. Castile was known for maintaining “great relationships with staff and students alike” according to a statement from Saint Paul Public Schools.

On average, school meals cost $400 a year for one student’s lunch according to Koppen. She shared that families in the St. Paul Public School system who fall outside the qualification level for free and reduced lunch “most definitely” need the kind of intervention support this fund provides.

(Photo credit: Renee Jones Schneider,/Star Tribune. Pictured: Valerie Castile, mother of Philando Castile)

If you don’t think school lunches really make a difference, check this out:

The University of California, along with the Nutritional Policy Institute compiled a database covering a five-year timespan with school-by-grade-level test results on California’s Standardized Testing and Reporting exam, a statewide test given at the time to all public-school students in grades 2 through 11.

Many of the students who can’t afford lunch often settle for unhealthy snacks like chips, highly-processed cheap food, carbonated drinks or even go without eating.

Test score data from some 9,700 elementary, middle, and high schools found that contracting with a healthy meal vendor correlated with increased student performance by between .03 and .04 standard deviations—a statistically significant improvement for economically disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students.

The study found that — to put it bluntly — meals could raise student achievement by about 4 percentile points on average.