A cafeteria employee at Mascoma Valley Regional High School in New Hampshire was fired after allowing a student to take lunch despite owning an $8 balance.
While some politicians pride themselves on taking food away from children who look forward to mealtime in school, a larger number of Americans are horrified by the idea of children being turned away from hot meals or given PB&J and an apple while their classmates munch on warm and more filling meals.
Personally, I don't recall liking cafeteria food all that much.
Granted, it was fairly cheap: 75 cents per student per meal, but even when my parents couldn't afford that small amount for all four kiddos every day, the school would turn a blind eye and let us eat. I never recalled any other kid being turned away, nor did any teacher grab my wrist and stamp my hand because I couldn't cough up the dough, nor did they make me feel bad because we were poor.
And that went a long way for the Muslim kid with immigrant parents and a weird name.
I don't remember any of the lunch ladies getting in trouble from the school administration for letting a few kids get away with some lunches here and there, but that certainly wasn't the case for Bonnie Kimball, a four-year cafeteria worker at Mascoma Regional High.
Kimball, who personally knew the student and their family, let the child know they had an eight-dollar balance in the system.
The child had promised to come back with the money from their parents the following day. Since Bonnie knew the student personally and their family, she was sure they would make good on their debt. And they did.
But Cafe Services — Bonnie's employer and the school's contracted lunch provider —didn't really care that she got the money the following day.
CNN reports that Bonnie was told what she did was tantamount to theft and she was handed a termination letter. Bonnie told the news agency the company's district manager said, "Do you understand what you did was wrong? That was theft."
The letter in question 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 in strict violation of our Cash Handling Procedures, the Schools Charge Policy and Federal Regulation governing free meals. Your final has been processed and disbursed to you."
Director of Human Resources for Cafe Services Jaime Matheson said the student wouldn't have been without a meal. "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."
The rest of Jaime's statement read, "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."
Two other Cafe Services employees quit in protest of Bonnie's firing, per reports from New Hampshire Union Leader. Kimball said that "We miss [the students] very much and wish we could still feed them every day."
What do you think? Is it wrong to fire an employee of over four years over something like this? Or was the company right to can Bonnie?