New Hampshire

Lunch Lady Fired for Giving Free Lunch to Hungry Child Invited to Return to Work at NH School

Bonnie Kimball, a lunchroom employee at Mascoma Valley Regional High School in Canaan, was let go by her employer, Cafe Services, Inc. in March

A New Hampshire cafeteria worker fired for giving lunch to a student who didn't have any money has been invited to return to work.

Bonnie Kimball, a lunchroom employee at Mascoma Valley Regional High School in Canaan, was let go by her employer, Cafe Services, Inc., in March after she allowed a student to accumulate an $8 lunch tab.

The Mascoma Valley Regional School District said Friday that Superintendent Amanda Isabelle spoke with Cafe Service, and that the company had agreed to invite her back to work.

Kimball was offered her job back, effective immediately, with back pay.

The district noted that about 360 of its students, or 30 percent, receive free lunch, and that the district does not refuse food to hungry children who cannot pay.

Kimball said she worked for the school for years and always served up lunch with a smile.

"They're all like my grandchildren – I've watched them all grow up. I was there four and a half years," Kimball said Thursday.

When one of her students came through the lunch line with his tray but no money, Kimball said she told him to bring the $8 the next day.

"The student brought the money in in the morning – in the afternoon the district manager called me aside and fired me. Told me that that was theft because I let him leave the kitchen without paying for it," said Kimball.

Even though Kimball lost her job, she hasn't lost touch with her students.

"I still go to their sports games. It's like one big family. I'm just not there every day," she said.

A spokesperson for Cafe Services, the company contracted to run the school cafeterias, told NBC10 Boston the information as reported by Kimball was not accurate.

"Fresh Picks Cafe, a division of Cafe Services, Inc., would never authorize an employee to not feed a student or a staff member a meal," the company said.

"Although we are not at liberty to discuss the confidential details regarding an employee's employment or termination from employment, we can share that the company has policies and procedures in place that are shared with and acknowledged by team members; when established policies and procedures are not followed, corrective action is put in place up to and including termination."

Kimball said she feels she was wrongly accused and is worried about how she'll pay her bills. But she said she still doesn't regret giving a hungry high schooler his lunch.

"I would do it today if I was still there," said Kimball.

Because Kimball didn't work for the Mascoma Valley Regional School District, the superintendent wouldn't comment on Kimball's termination. In a statement, the superintendent said district policy ensures every student has access to a meal whether they have lunch money or not.

"School district policy is to make healthy nutritious school meals available to every child whether or not the child has sufficient funds to cover the cost of the meal," read a portion of the statement.

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