This Lunch Lady Fed A Hungry Student For Free And Was Unfairly Fired For Her Kindness

Bonnie Kimball from New Hampshire thought she was following the lunchroom's instructions but was fired the next day despite the student having already repaid his debt.
Bonnie Kimball was a lunchroom employee at Mascoma Valley Regional High School in New Hampshire. She worked there for four and a half years before being fired for allowing a child to take food on their lunch tray that they were not able to pay for immediately on March 28, leading to an $8 debt in his name. Though Kimball told the student to make the payment the very next day, which he promptly did, officials within the school administration are unwilling to rehire her. Many were deeply upset by the news and have reached out in support of the kind lunch lady, demanding that the school reinstate her employment, according to CNN.
This Lunch Lady Fed A Hungry Student For Free And Was Unfairly Fired For Her Kindness
Kimball said that she was not worried about the debt as she knew the student's family very well. "We know these kids," she told local news outlet Union Leader. However, on April 4, a week after the incident took place, she was fired by the district manager of the food services company that employed her, Café Services. In an interview, Kimball revealed to CNN that she was told, "'Do you understand what you did was wrong? That was theft.'" She was also handed a termination letter which accused her of violating the company's procedures in addition to federal and school policies.
This Lunch Lady Fed A Hungry Student For Free And Was Unfairly Fired For Her Kindness

The letter was dated for April 9 and read, "On March 28, a district manager was on-site and witnessed a student coming through the line with multiple food items that you did not charge him for. This is in strict violation of our cash handling procedures, the school's charge policy and federal regulation governing free meals. Your final [payment] has been processed and disbursed to you." The letter does not reveal which federal policies exactly Kimball had breached.
This Lunch Lady Fed A Hungry Student For Free And Was Unfairly Fired For Her Kindness

Jaime Matheson, human resources director for Café Services, released a statement following the incident. He claimed that the student would not have gone without a meal should Kimball have not decided to let him walk away without paying for his food. He said in his statement: The student in question did receive a lunch. Students who come up to the lunch line without money receive a lunch of an entrée or sandwich plus side dishes or fresh fruit and milk. An employee of the company would not be let go because they provide this lunch to a student.
This Lunch Lady Fed A Hungry Student For Free And Was Unfairly Fired For Her Kindness

It continued: We can't get into specifics because personnel decisions are confidential to honor privacy, however, employees receive and sign their acknowledgment to company policies. When these aren't followed, corrective action is put in place, up to and including termination. We're all proud of our ability to provide meals to those in need. Cookie Hebert, chairman of Mascoma Valley Regional School Board, added, "The policy is that the student be fed. There’s no refusal. There [have] been no hiccups in the service to the district."

Kimball, on the other hand, asserts she was following protocol. As per a briefing held earlier this year in February, she was instructed to quietly tell her students to add more money to their account instead of withholding food from them. She explained, "I was doing what I was told to do. We weren’t supposed to pull trays." In light of her termination, two of her coworkers have resigned from their positions at the same school in protest. She said of the students, "We miss them very much and wish we could still feed them every day."
This Lunch Lady Fed A Hungry Student For Free And Was Unfairly Fired For Her Kindness

Since the incident, Kimball has initiated a GoFundMe in order to keep her afloat while she finds a new job. At present, it has attained $425 of its $1,000 goal. Others have reached out to the kind lunch lady on Facebook. Kerri Pruitt, for example, commented: I’m really sorry this happened to you. You’re a great person with a great big heart. I donated because you deserved it. May God bless you to work in a place where you’re celebrated and not just tolerated.