New Hampshire cafeteria worker rehired after giving student free lunch

Bonnie Kimball worked in the lunchroom at Mascoma Valley Regional High School in New Hampshire. She was fired by her employer, Café Services, on April 4. (Courtesy: Bonnie Kimball via CNN)

CANAAN, N.H. — A school cafeteria worker in New Hampshire who was fired after providing a child with a lunch even though there was no money in his account has been rehired.

Bonnie Kimball was employed by Café Services, a vendor that supplies food to the Mascoma Valley Regional High School in Canaan.

Kimball said that when the student’s account showed no funds, she quietly told him “‘tell (your) mom you need money,’” and provided a lunch.

She told CNN she had known the boy’s parents since they were children and was confident his $8 lunch tab would soon be taken care of.

The next morning the tab had reportedly been addressed and money was in the boy’s lunch account.

However, about a week later, Kimball was terminated by Café Services.  She provided a copy of her termination letter.  It reads in part:

“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.”

The letter was reportedly dated April 9 even though Kimball was terminated on April 4.

Jaime Matheson, human resources director for Café Services reportedly said in the statement that 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 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,” Matheson told CNN. “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.”

However, Café Services told People on Friday that Kimball has been rehired.

They reportedly consulted with the school district about current policies regarding the handling of 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 told People. “We will then work with our manager on those policies.”

Even though the school district had previously expressed disapproval of Café Services’ actions, the school board voted Tuesday to continue using the company.

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