A charity in Philando Castile's name helped pay off hundreds of students' lunch debt.

The world watched Philando Castile die, but thanks to the work of a new foundation, his legacy lives on.

On July 6, 2016, 32-year-old Castile was driving with his girlfriend and her 4-year-old daughter when they were pulled over by two St. Anthony, Minnesota, police officers. During what should have been a routine traffic stop, officer Jeronimo Yanez fired seven shots into the car, hitting Castile five times. Castile died soon after at a local emergency room.

What made Castile's death especially shocking was the fact that the incident was caught on camera. Diamond Reynolds, Castile's girlfriend, livestreamed the immediate aftermath. Castile informed Yanez that he had a gun, as is the responsible thing to do in that situation. The officer's response was to begin shouting, accusing Castile of reaching for the gun and firing his weapon. It was a horrible injustice made worse when Yanez was acquitted of charges of manslaughter and reckless discharge of a firearm.


Demonstrators march through St. Paul carrying a photo of Castile shortly after his death. Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images.

Castile worked in the cafeteria at St. Paul's J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet School, where he was beloved by children and colleagues. His death inspired a massive fundraiser for those kids.

A number of J.J. Hill elementary students had accrued thousands of dollars in lunch debt. While some qualified for free lunch, many families had incomes just outside the support cutoff. A new YouCaring campaign, Philando Feeds the Children, is working to wipe that debt clean — and then some.

Thanks to extensive public support, what started as a plan to wipe out lunch debt at J.J. Hill soon became a plan to address lunch debt across each of the 56 public schools in St. Paul. As of this writing, the group has raised more than $153,000.

Protestors at a Dallas rally in support of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. Photo by Laura Buckman/AFP/Getty Images.

The entire concept of a "lunch debt" is pretty ridiculous, but it's happening all around us.

For many students from low-income families, a school lunch might be the only nourishing meal they get each day. In 2016, writer Ashley Ford offered a suggestion to her Twitter followers, writing, "A cool thing you can do today is try to find out which of your local schools have kids with overdue lunch accounts and pay them off." In the months that followed, people donated thousands of dollars to their local school districts, wiping out balances. It was a powerful show of empathy and humanity for a problem that shouldn't exist.

A related issue is something called "lunch-shaming." In Alabama, one student reported being stamped with the words "I need lunch money." A Utah school collected lunches from 40 students who owed a lunch balance and threw them away in 2014. In 2017, New Mexico passed the "Hunger-Free Students' Bill of Rights," aimed at making it easier for parents, teachers, and students to apply for free and discounted lunch programs while reducing the stigma and shaming.

People protest outside the Minnesota governor's mansion in July 2016. Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images.

To support the Philando Feeds the Children program in St. Paul, Minnesota, visit the campaign's YouCaring page. Additionally, if you're interested in helping out at a local level, GoFundMe has its own curated page of lunch debt elimination campaigns.

True
Back Market

Between the new normal that is working from home and e-learning for students of all ages, having functional electronic devices is extremely important. But that doesn't mean needing to run out and buy the latest and greatest model. In fact, this cycle of constantly upgrading our devices to keep up with the newest technology is an incredibly dangerous habit.

The amount of e-waste we produce each year is growing at an increasing rate, and the improper treatment and disposal of this waste is harmful to both human health and the planet.

So what's the solution? While no one expects you to stop purchasing new phones, laptops, and other devices, what you can do is consider where you're purchasing them from and how often in order to help improve the planet for future generations.

Keep Reading Show less

Biases, stereotypes, prejudices—these byproducts of the human brain's natural tendency to generalize and categorize have been a root cause of most of humanity's problems for, well, pretty much ever. None of us is immune to those tendencies, and since they can easily slip in unnoticed, we all have to be aware of where, when, and how they impact our own beliefs and actions.

It also helps when someone upends a stereotype by saying or doing something unexpected.

Fair or not, certain parts of the U.S. are associated with certain cultural assumptions, perhaps none more pinholed than the rural south. When we hear Appalachia, a certain stereotype probably pops up in our minds—probably white, probably not well educated, probably racist. Even if there is some basis to a stereotype, we must always remember that human beings can never be painted with such broad strokes.

Enter Tyler Childers, a rising country music star whose old-school country fiddling has endeared him to a broad audience, but his new album may have a different kind of reach. "Long Violent History" was released Friday, along with a video message to his white rural fans explaining the culminating track by the same name. Watch it here:

Keep Reading Show less
True
Back Market

Between the new normal that is working from home and e-learning for students of all ages, having functional electronic devices is extremely important. But that doesn't mean needing to run out and buy the latest and greatest model. In fact, this cycle of constantly upgrading our devices to keep up with the newest technology is an incredibly dangerous habit.

The amount of e-waste we produce each year is growing at an increasing rate, and the improper treatment and disposal of this waste is harmful to both human health and the planet.

So what's the solution? While no one expects you to stop purchasing new phones, laptops, and other devices, what you can do is consider where you're purchasing them from and how often in order to help improve the planet for future generations.

Keep Reading Show less

The legality of abortion is one of the most polarized debates in America—but it doesn’t have to be.

People have big feelings about abortion, which is understandable. On one hand, you have people who feel that abortion is a fundamental women’s rights issue, that our bodily autonomy is not something you can legislate, and that those who oppose abortion rights are trying to control women through oppressive legislation. On the other, you have folks who believe that a fetus is a human individual first and foremost, that no one has the right to terminate a human life, and that those who support abortion rights are heartless murderers.

Then there are those of us in the messy middle. Those who believe that life begins at conception, that abortion isn’t something we’d choose—and we’d hope others wouldn’t choose—under most circumstances, yet who choose to vote to keep abortion legal.

Keep Reading Show less
@frajds / Twitter

Father Alek Schrenk is known as one of the "9 Priests You Need to Follow on Twitter." He proved his social media skills Sunday night after finding a creepy note on a parked car and weaving a lurid Twitter tale that kept his followers on the edge of their pews.

Father Schrenk was making his nightly walk of the church grounds to make sure everything was fine before retiring to the rectory, when he found a car parked by itself in front of the school.

Curious, he looked inside the car and saw a note that made his "blood run cold" attached to the steering wheel. "Look in trunk!" the note read. What made it extra creepy was that the two Os in "look" had smiley faces.

Keep Reading Show less