By Paulina Dedaj
Published May 17, 2019
A New Hampshire cafeteria worker claims she was fired after providing lunch to a high school student who didn't have money for a meal.
Bonnie Kimball was working the register at the Mascoma Valley Regional High School cafeteria on March 28 when a male student’s account showed that he had no funds. Kimball told the student quietly, “Tell (your) mom you need money,” and let him walk away with his meal.
Kimball, who works as an employee for the food vendor Café Services, said a manager saw the encounter and questioned her about the items that the student walked away with.
She was fired several days later on April 4.
On April 9, Kimball received a letter from Fresh Picks Café, a division of Café Services, Inc., which detailed the incident and confirmed the apparent reason for her “termination.”
“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,” Jaime Matheson, director of human resources, said in the letter, obtained by the New Hampshire Union Leader.
“This is in strict violation of our Cash Handling Procedures, the School Charge Policy and Federal Regulation governing free meals.”
But a spokesperson for the Manchester-based vendor told the Associated Press in a statement Thursday that it "would never authorize an employee to not feed a student or staff member a meal" and that an employee "would not be let go because they provided this lunch to a student."
Matheson also said separately that she is “not at liberty to discuss the confidential details regarding an employee's employment or termination from employment.” She added, however, that there are “policies and procedures in place” that employees should adhere to.
“When established policies and procedures are not followed corrective action is put in place up to and including termination," Matheson said.
Kimball told the local paper that the lunch cost around $8 and the student returned the following day to pay his tab.
The Mascoma Regional School Board voted Tuesday to continue using the company for another year, despite the controversy involving Kimball.
"The people working in the school lunch program are employees of Café Services, and Café Services is responsible for employment decisions regarding those employees," the district said in a statement.
"School district policy is to make healthy nutritious school meals available to every child whether or not the child has sufficient funds to cover the cost of the meal."