Mother of Philando Castile Donates $8K to Clear Student Lunch Debt, Allowing Seniors to Graduate

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Three years since Philando Castile was shot and killed by a Minneapolis-area police officer, his mother is making a major donation to carry on his legacy.

Castile was a beloved cafeteria supervisor at J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet School in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Knowing about his dedication to students there, his mother presented a check to another high school a town over to remove lunch debts for hundreds of 12th-graders.

Robbinsdale Cooper High School was presented with a check for $8,000 from Castile’s mother, Valerie Castile, Thursday, April 25, which will allow 334 students who previously owed money to graduate. The check came from the Philando Castile Relief Foundation, which was established immediately following Castile’s death in July 2016 when a cop pulled him over for his “wide-set nose” as a robbery suspect.

Paying off school lunch debts is one of the missions of the foundation.

“This is something that Philando held near and dear to his heart,” Valerie Castile said during a news conference, adding it’s just the thing her own son would do as a supervisor at J.J. Hill. “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.”

Carlton Jenkins, superintendent of Robbinsdale Area Schools, was also present when the check was handed out. He mentioned the massive lunch debt of the district.

“The unpaid bills is over $300,000 now in our district and we also see this through the state,” he said.

Remarking on Valerie Castile’s donation he said, “For those students to know that they can graduate now without having a bill, I can’t tell you how big it is.”

He extended a thank you to Valerie Castile and the two shared a hug immediately afterward.

“As long as we can help, we will,” Valerie Castile said at the news conference.

The gift marks the most recent time Philando Castile’s mother has presented a check to a school in memory of the cafeteria worker affectionately known as Mr. Phil.

In October 2017, Valerie Castile presented a $10,000 check on behalf of her son’s foundation to the school he used to work for.

In addition to assisting school districts in the Twin Cities of Saint Paul and Minneapolis area pay off negative school lunch balances, the nonprofit also helps individuals ​who have been affected by gun violence and police violence.

Castile was stopped by officer Jeronimo Yanez in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, on July 6, 2016. With his girlfriend and her young daughter in the vehicle, the cop opened fire on Castile when he reached to provide the license and registration that had been requested of him. The incident, the aftermath of which was live-streamed on Facebook, occurred after Castile had informed the officer he had a gun in the car and was licensed to carry.

Yanez was charged with second-degree manslaughter and two lesser counts of endangering Philando Castile’s girlfriend and her daughter when he fired his gun at the victim. He was acquitted in 2017.

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