Philando Castile’s mom is using her platform to help a group of high school seniors walk across the graduation stage after they were barred from the ceremony due to unpaid lunch debts.
The action has rightfully caused a conversation regarding income equality and whether students really should be penalized over the necessities of food and nourishment.
Valerie Castile donated a grand total of $8,000 to cover the costs for 334 students at Cooper High School in New Hope, Minnesota, carrying out the legacy of her slain son who oftentimes paid for the lunches of students who were deprived of food. The funds were granted on behalf of the Philando Castile Relief Foundation.
“This is something that Philando held near and dear to his heart,” Valerie Castile said in an interview with Minnesota CBS.
“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 continued.
Castile was shot and killed during a tense traffic stop in July 2016. His death was broadcast across the world as his girlfriend Diamond Reynolds filmed the fateful encounter using the Facebook Live feature. In 2017 Jeronimo Yanez, the officer involved in the shooting, was found not guilty of second-degree manslaughter and was acquitted of two counts of intentional discharge of a firearm.
According to the outlet who spoke with Carlton Jenkins, superintendent of Robbinsdale Area Schools, the overall unpaid bill across the district totals to $300,000, signaling a large problem in regards to household income and the cost of lunch.
Castile’s large donation marks the second time she has given to this specific cause on behalf of her foundation. Last year Castile donated $100,000 to eliminate the lunch debt in her son’s old school district where he worked as a nutrition supervisor.