Idaho cafeteria worker who was fired for giving free lunch is offered her job back

The cafeteria worker who said she was fired from an Idaho middle school for giving a hungry student a free lunch was offered her job back on Christmas Eve.

The Pocatello/Chubbuck School District released a 615-word statement detailing its role in the community and the importance of nutrition before revealing at the end that Dalene Bowden could return to work.

Bowden said a 12-year-old Irving Middle School student didn't have any money to pay for the hot lunch. The cost: $1.70.

The district had placed Bowden on leave Dec. 15 before deciding to fire her earlier this week, she said.

Part of the school district's lengthy statement released Thursday reads, "During this holiday season, emotions and feelings abound in the spirit of giving and looking after the needs of others." It continues, "Our District focuses on the success of every student and recognizes nutrition is an important part of each student’s education and learning."

Finally, the last sentence ends, "The District has been in communication with Ms. Bowden extending an opportunity for her to return to employment with the District."

There was no immediate comment from Bowden about whether she'd return to work.

Tens of thousands of people had rushed to her defense. A petition supporting Bowden racked up more than 38,000 online signatures as of Wednesday.

"Lunch room policies should prioritize kindness and making sure kids recieve a nutritious lunch so they can be ready to learn," supporter Raushelle Guzman wrote in the petition, calling for the district to let Bowden return to work.

Students are allowed to charge up to $11.00, but workers can still give them some food if they exceed that limit, according to reports.