Castile Lunch Donation to Cooper

The Philando Castile Relief Foundation Gives Generous Donation to Robbinsdale Cooper High School
Posted on 04/25/2019
Valerie Castile Presents Donation at Cooper High SchoolUPDATE, May 6, 2019:
Robbinsdale Area Schools appreciates the outpouring of support received as a result of the local and national attention around the Philando Castile Relief Foundation’s donation. The district is grateful to the Castile Foundation for their generous support of our students. However, the district would like to clarify some misinformation resulting from national coverage and viral social media posts.

According to MN Statute (Statute 123B.35), students can not be denied the opportunity to graduate or participate in class if their debt is not paid. As such, Robbinsdale Area Schools students do not have diplomas withheld if they have lunch account debts.

Across the district the entire amount of unpaid nutritional debt, more than $300,000, has accumulated over several years. The district works with families to collect fees owed. “For most people who have debt - it’s not that they don’t want to pay it, they might not have the means,” said Carlton D. Jenkins, Ph.D., Superintendent of Robbinsdale Area Schools. Districts across the state, as well as nationally, also face this issue. According to the non-profit School Nutrition Association, a national survey found 75% of school districts reported having unpaid student meal debt at the end of the 2016-17 school year.

Robbinsdale Cooper High School has more than 300 senior students. The $8,000 Philando Castile Relief Foundation donation to the school covers the negative balances of about 100 seniors students in the free and reduced program. For students who qualify for free lunch, some may have had a balance accrued prior to their family qualifying or enrolling in program.

“This was a humanitarian act from Valerie Castile and the Foundation, which will help ease the financial burden and stress for some of our students and families,” said Dr. Jenkins. “This donation was huge for students who are in the free and reduced program to have their fees wiped out.”

After the donation from the Castile Foundation, $10,000 in debt remains for senior students at Cooper High School. At Armstrong High School, there is more than $8,000 in debt for seniors.

Dr. Jenkins and Dr. Frank Herman, Principal of Cooper High School, both agree the donation helps students and families feel supported. Both feel the actions of Valerie Castile and the Foundation are choices and behaviors students will model in the future. "Students might not do anything right away, but maybe down the line they will pay it forward because of the generosity they received," said Dr. Herman.

Robbinsdale Area Schools continually reviews policies and practices to address any barriers which may prevent students from fully participating in our district. We are thankful for community members who share our concerns around equity issues.


Robbinsdale Cooper High School received a generous donation on April 25, 2019 from the Philando Castile Relief Foundation - Philando Castile Feeds The Children campaign. Valerie Castile presented the donation of $8,000 to cover the meal balances of senior students eligible for free and reduced meals at Cooper High School.

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

“The Foundation is designed by all the things Philando held dear to his heart: children, family and the community,” said Valerie Castile, Philando’s mother. “The Philando Castile Relief Foundation always cares. Philando was an awesome person and he is TRULY missed,” she said.

According to their website, the Philando Castile Feeds The Children campaign continues “Philandos' legacy of his caring, loving nature. He was the supervisor of the cafeteria at J.J. Hill Montessori School, where he took his job very seriously. He knew each child by name, their allergies and pin number. He was known for paying for their meals out of his own pocket. He knew how important the first meal of the day is for a child. That's why it's so important that we carry on his legacy by helping families pay the negative lunch balances in St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota.”