New Hampshire

Independent Review Finds Company Was Justified to Fire Lunch Lady

A company was justified in its firing of a New Hampshire high school cafeteria worker who gave free food to students, according to an independent administrative review released Tuesday.

Bonnie Kimball, an employee of Fresh Picks Cafe working at Mascoma Valley Regional High School in Canaan, was fired in March after providing free food to a student, leading to public outcry.

The Macoma Valley Regional School District said Kimball's termination was justified following a report primarily prepared by an outside consultant. The report determined that Kimball had violated policy and given a la carte items like sports drinks and French fries to multiple students over several months.

"This review was comprehensive, and provides the facts and answers the school community has called for and deserves regarding this chapter in the history of our school district," Superintendent Amanda Isabelle said in a statement. "I am confident moving forward that Mascoma will be more proactive in sharing the many, many positive programs we have in place to support our students and community, and in strengthening communication among all stakeholders in our schools."

The parents of a 17-year-old who received free food from Kimball have accused her of sending the boy Facebook messages asking for help covering it up. They said Kimball told the boy to pay his $8 tab because the manager who saw her give him food would be there the following day.

"We will prolly get written up, but we can make it look good. Lol," Kimball wrote.

She went on to tell the student she was fired.

"I am on World News right now flying to New York to meet some famous football players," Kimball also wrote in reference to her newfound fame.

Kimball did not want to comment to NBC10 Boston on the Facebook messages when confronted back in May other than to say, "They might be about something else."


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She added that she was hiring an attorney.

Immediately after her firing, the Mascoma Valley School District demanded that Kimball be given her job back. But Isabelle later said the district has rescinded its demand given the information from the boy's mother.

Kimball's firing sparked national headlines as she and her former employer Cafe Services fired back at each other. Celebrity chef José Andrés, who is known for providing free meals to survivors of natural disasters, tweeted out Kimball's story Friday and encouraged her to apply for a position at his company.

About 364 out of the nearly 1,000 students enrolled in the school district, or 36%, receive free or reduced fee lunch, according to the New Hampshire Department of Education. Isabelle said the district "does not refuse food to hungry children who cannot afford to pay." She noted in her statement that the free lunch policy is limited to "meals, milk, fruits and vegetables," but that other items such as "ice cream bars and sports drinks" are not provided for free. 

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