High School Cafeteria Worker Fired After Giving Student a Free Meal

May 19, 2019 Updated: May 19, 2019

A New Hampshire school cafeteria worker was reportedly fired after giving food to a child who couldn’t pay for it.

The New Hampshire Union Leader reported that Bonnie Kimball let a high school boy take $8 worth of food on March 28. She told the unnamed child, who goes to Mascoma Valley Regional High School, that he needed to pay it back.

Kimball said she was then fired by vendor Cafe Services after the free lunch was given, the report said.

Cafe Services later said that it had offered to re-hire Kimball and give her back pay, Fox News reported.

Kimball, however, said she was not interested in returning, saying she believed that she was only offered the job because the company wanted to keep its contract with the school district.

According to the Union Leader, the boy who got the free lunch paid the bill the next day. But Kimball was still fired.

“I was doing what I was told to do,” Kimball said, adding that her manager had instructed her to allow students to take food and discreetly tell them that they have to add money later to their account.

“When I rang him up, the student didn’t have any money on their account,” Kimball told the Valley News. “So, I have a district manager here, my boss has told me ‘Don’t cause any scenes with the contract’ and I quietly said ‘tell (your) mom you need money.’”

Kimball said the manager was concerned about Cafe Services renewing its contract and didn’t want to cause an incident.

“We weren’t supposed to pull trays,” she said.

She said that two other employees in the high school lunchroom quit in protest of her treatment.

And despite the negative press, the school board voted to keep using Cafe Services as a food vendor for another year, giving it a contract worth $560,000.

“It was my life for five years. I went and I took care of another family,” Kimball was quoted by the Valley News. “You don’t just lose a family member, be OK and move on.”

After Kimball’s story went, celebrity chef Jose Andres went on Twitter to offer Kimball employment at his nonprofit World Central Kitchen.

“The hero is Bonnie Kimball! If she needs a new job we have openings @thinkfoodgroup,” Andres wrote.

Woman Claims School Threw Food Away

In another incident late last year, an Alabama woman claimed that a student was denied lunch because he couldn’t pay. The lunch was then tossed in the trash.

The woman, Laurie Brown, said the student was sent to Foley High School in Baldwin County after Hurricane Michael, which slammed Florida’s Panhandle region.

On Facebook, Brown claimed in a post: “The student that was behind her (that got the chicken sandwich, fries an orange and a drink) is trying to charge his lunch to his account. Did I mention that this was this child’s first day at Foley High school? Anyway, the cafeteria lady proceeds to tell his child that he can’t charge his lunch. Her words were ‘no money, no lunch’. And then of all things she takes his tray, the tray complete with a chicken sandwich, fries, an orange, and a drink, AND THROWS IT IN THE TRASH!!!!”

Superintendent Eddie Tyler issued a statement on the matter, saying no child will go hungry, saying the child got fed.

“We have investigated the matter reported at our school about a child’s lunch being thrown away and fed a sandwich. Out of respect to the family’s privacy, all we can say is that the child was fed and the family has no problem with how the matter was handled,” he said.