|Philando Castile was shot and killed by a Minnesota|
police office in 2016. Castile was school nutrition
supervisor. A fund in his name is now paying off
childrens' school lunch debt.
Castile was killed by a police office during a 2016 traffic stop, which of course meant the world lost a generous, kind guy, the type of person we all need.
As is pretty much always the case when a police officer shoots a black person, the police officer was acquited of criminal charge. Which compounds the tragedy.
When a good person dies, people often try to turn the tragedy into something good. And Castile's death has led to exactly that.
According to CNN, a charity run in Castile's name has wiped out the lunch debt of every student in all 56 schools in the St. Paul Public Schools district in Minnesota.
"That means that no parent of the 37,000 kids who eat meals at school need worry about how to pay that overdue debt," according to a fundraising page for the charity Philando Feeds the Children.
I'm going to stop right here for a second and get on my soap box. I get it that school districts everywhere are strapped for cash and can't afford to pay for school lunches. Somebody has to pay for them.
However, I have an immense problem with all those schools who punish the kids because their parents either can't pay for the school meals or won't.
In many schools, when there's lunch debt, the kids involved often just get a lame, cold sandwich while their friends get full meals.
That's an insidious practice that's become known as "lunch shaming." It's terrible to deny a kid a decent lunch. It's also terrible to shame a kid by giving him or her something substandard in front of all their friends. I thought schools discouraged bullying. All this does is encourage it.
In St. Paul, Minnesota, the Philando Feeds The Children fund goes beyond rescuing kids from food bullying by the school district.
CNN says student parents or caregivers cannot submit paperwork to request free or reduced-price lunches (based on income and need) unless the kids' lunch debt is retired.
Which leads to a never-ending cycle. The kids' lunch fund keeps going deeper and deeper into debt, so it becomes more impossible for the kids' parents to pay off the debt. Some parents acrue as much as $1,000 in debt.
Which means the kids will never, ever get decent food. They can't pay the debt, so they can't apply for free or reduced cost lunches. That's the way it works in today's America. If you're poor, you need to be punished. Whether or not it's your fault.
It looks like when he was alive, Castile understood this. So do the people donating to this cause. There's a lot of bad things in this world, but at least some good can come of it, at least sometimes.
As of about a week ago, the Philando fund stood at over $107,000, which really, really surpassed its goal of $5,000, CNN says.
"Philando is STILL reaching into his pocket, and helping a kid out," the charity wrote in a social media post recently.