Philando Castile's Mother Donates $8,000 to Settle Lunch Debt

The mother of Philando Castile donated $8,000 to a high school in Minnesota to help settle their student lunch debt. Valerie Castile made the donation to Robbinsdale Cooper High School in New Hope, Minnesota on April 25 to cover the school lunch balances for graduating seniors, according to a statement from Robbinsdale Area Schools. Before students can graduate, they need to pay off their lunch meal balances, WCCO reported.

“We are so grateful for this donation and the generosity of the Philando Castile Feeds the Children campaign,” Adele Lillie, Robbinsdale Area Schools nutrition director, said in the statement. “The impact of this donation will reach many students and allow families to focus on celebrating the seniors’ upcoming graduation.”

Castile’s son was killed during a traffic stop by former St. Anthony Police Department officer Jeronimo Yanez in July 2016. The news of the shooting went viral after Philando’s girlfriend live-streamed the aftermath of the shooting on Facebook, The Guardian previously reported. Yanez was acquitted of all charges in the shooting in June 2017, The New York Times previously reported. Following his death, Castile launched the Philando Castile Relief Foundation, which continues to give back to children in the St. Paul and Minneapolis school districts by financially assisting students who are unable to purchase lunch with their own money.

“The Foundation is designed by all the things Philando held dear to his heart: children, family and the community,” Castile said in the statement. “The Philando Castile Relief Foundation always cares. Philando was an awesome person and he is truly missed.”

Philando spent over 15 years of his life working in the St. Paul school district in food nutrition as a cafeteria supervisor, according to the foundation’s website. Students used to refer to Philando as “Mr. Phil,” according to the WCCO. Castile told the news station that he would always go out of his way to help a child in need. “He’d pay for children’s lunch meals out of his own pocket instead of letting a child go hungry that day he would pay for it himself,” Castile said.

This is not the first time Castile has donated to help pay off student lunch debt. In 2017, she delivered $10,000 to J.J. Hill Montessori in St. Paul, Minnesota, which was the school where Philando used to work, according to The Washington Post. The money was raised by a college class at the Metropolitan State University in St. Paul through a “Philando Feeds the Children” fundraiser.

Philando Feeds the Children raised over $155,000 by March 2018, The Star Tribune reported. The fundraiser used $45,000 to clear all of the school lunch debt for 1,800 students enrolled in the federal school lunch program in St. Paul, according to the publication.

To donate to the foundation or request assistance, visit the Philando Castile Foundation website.

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.