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Fired Lunchroom Worker Hadn’t Charged Student for 3 Months, Her Former Employer Says

By Wire Service Content

A lunchroom worker in New Hampshire who said she was fired for allowing a student to take food without paying hadn’t been charging the student for anything for several months, her former employer said.

Bonnie Kimball was fired from her job with Café Services in April after a student at Mascoma Valley Regional High School in Canaan told her he didn’t have money to pay for the items on his lunch tray. She said she let him take the food for free and he paid his $8 lunch tab the next morning.

Kimball was dishonest and was let go for not following company procedures, Brian Stone, president of the company’s school division said in a statement on May 20. She hadn’t charged the student for any part of the meal but told her manager she did. Every student in the line gets a lunch, so there was no reason for her to not charge the account, according to Stone.

“Despite the fact that the student goes through the line frequently according to the employee, this student hadn’t been charged for anything for the previous three months,” Stone said in a video statement posted on YouTube.

In a written statement, Stone said the student was in line with a full lunch, as well as oven fries and two packages of cookies. When the student got up to the cashier, Kimball grabbed a Powerade and added it to his tray. She then let the student take the full lunch allowed by school policy and also four additional items, Stone said.

“Not only should she not have allowed the additional a la carte items, but she did not record or charge any of the items, including the main lunch, to the student account so they could be paid in the future,” Stone said.

When reached Tuesday, Kimball said: “My lawyer advised me not to speak to anyone.” She declined to give the name of her lawyer.

Kimball was accused of violating the procedures of Café Services as well as federal and school policies, according to a termination letter she provided to CNN. She had worked at Mascoma Valley Regional High School for more than four years, according to the New Hampshire Union Leader.

Kimball said that two other employees in the lunchroom quit in protest of her firing.

free lunch in school
A first-grader uses fingerprint scanner to pay for lunch at Penn Cambria Pre-Primary School on March 1, 2002 in Cresson, PA. (William Thomas Cain/Getty Images/File)

She Was Re-Offered the Job

School officials and a food service company previously wanted to rehire Kimball, but Kimball said she wouldn’t take their offer.

“They’re not doing it for me, they are doing it to save face,” said Kimball.

In a statement Friday, May 17, the company said it decided to rehire Kimball and will be paying her back for the work she missed.

“We had a recent situation where an employee violated school and company policy in dealing with our food service and our district manager made a decision he felt was right at the time,” said Brian Stone, president of the company’s school division.

School children pick up their lunches from the cafeteria. (Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)

The Mascoma Valley Regional School District and the company said in separate statements that they will work together to review food policies going forward.

“First and foremost, it is our goal to do right by our families, community, students, and employees at the Mascoma Valley Regional School District. The events of these past few weeks and the feedback I have received from parents has given me considerable pause,” Superintendent Amanda Isabelle said.

“I believe we have all learned something through this process,” she said.

While the district does not “refuse to provide food to a hungry child who cannot afford to pay,” school officials said, the free lunches policy does not include ice cream bars, sports drinks, and chips that have a “high unit cost to the district and are not viewed as essential nutrition.”

It’s unclear what items the boy had on his lunch tray.

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