Cafeteria worker says she was fired for letting student who couldn’t afford lunch take food

WEST CANAAN, N.H. — When a student at a New Hampshire high school put items on his tray that he didn’t have the money for, lunchroom employee Bonnie Kimball didn’t think it was a big deal.

She told the student to make sure to pay the next day.

She wasn’t worried as she had known the boy’s parents since they were children, and had no doubt the $8 lunch tab would soon be taken care of.

And the next morning, she said, that’s what happened.

About a week later, she was fired by the district manager of Cafe Services, the food services company that employed her.

“‘Do you understand what you did was wrong? That was theft,'” Kimball says she was told.

A photo of her termination letter shows the company accused her of violating its procedures as well as federal and school policies.

The letter was dated April 9 and said Kimball was fired April 4.

“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,” the letter reads.

“Your final has been processed and disbursed to you.”

Jaime Matheson, human resources director for Cafe Services, said in a statement the student wouldn’t have gone 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 entree 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,” Matheson said.

“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.”

Kimball had worked at Mascoma Valley Regional High School for 4 1/2 years, according to the New Hampshire Union Leader. She also said two other employees in the lunchroom quit in protest of her firing.

“We miss them very much and wish we could still feed them every day,” she said.

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