School Cafeteria Worker Gets Job Back Amid Outrage She Was Fired for Giving Student Free Food
"One minute I’m mad, and the next minute, I just want to forget it all happened,” said Bonnie Kimball
A cafeteria worker at Mascoma Valley Regional High School in New Hampshire was rehired over a month after she was terminated for letting a child at school get $8 worth of food for free.
Employee Bonnie Kimball told CNN that she has known the boy’s parents since she was a child, and as expected, he later brought in what he owed.
But according to the news outlet, Kimball was fired by Café Services, the food services company for which she worked, a week later on April 4.
Kimball said the district manager said to her, “Do you understand what you did was wrong? That was theft.”
On Friday, Fresh Picks, the school division of Café Services, told PEOPLE in a statement that they “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.”
But after consulting with the school district about the current policies for handling transactions with students, “we are going to offer to rehire our recently terminated employee and provide her back pay and we will work with the school district to revise policies and procedures regarding transactions,” the company added. “We will then work with our manager on those policies.”
Kimball did not immediately return PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Her termination letter — which was provided to CNN — allegedly says that “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 [is] 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.”
Kimball told The Valley News that for five years she drove to the school from her home in Canaan Village.
“We didn’t even call it work,” she told the newspaper last month. “We got up in the morning, we took care of our families and we went to take care of the kids.”
Speaking about the day she rang up the student, Kimball said he didn’t have any money on his account.
“So, I have a district manager here, my boss has told me, ‘Don’t cause any scenes with the contract,’ and I quietly said, ‘Tell [your] mom you need money,'” she told The Valley News.
After the student said, “Okay, will do,” he went to eat and the manager asked Kimball what the student had on his plate, she claimed.
According to the newspaper, people in the community have since stepped up to support her, including two fellow workers who quit in protest.
“These guys really took care of our kids. They put our kids first and their focus was really our kids,” Christina Moodie, whose son attends the high school, told The Valley News. “I know Bonnie went above and beyond for the kids.”
Prior to being rehired, Kimball told the newspaper she was struggling with being let go.
“I’m just dealing with so much right now: the public, paperwork. One minute I’m mad, and the next minute, I just want to forget it all happened,” she said. “I guess I’m mourning my job.”