A school cafeteria worker was fired after she gave a hungry 12-year-old girl a free meal. Dalene Bowden – who lives in Pocatello, Idaho – worked as a lunch lady in the Pocatello/Chubbuck School District up until last week, when her contract was terminated for theft of school property.
On December 15, Bowden was serving lunch at the Irving Middle School cafeteria when one of the students told her she was hungry but didn’t have any money to buy food. She said: “I know I screwed up, but what are you supposed to do when the kid tells you that they’re hungry and they don’t have any money.”
Bowden went on to explain that her supervisor saw her give the student a free lunch, and even though she offered to pay the $1.70 cost herself, she was placed on leave. After a few days, the kind woman received a letter from the Pocatello/Chubbuck School District informing her she had been fired for “theft/stealing school district…property, and inaccurate, transactions when ordering, receiving, and serving food.”
Bowden said that she broke the rules, but she offered to pay for the meal and doesn’t think she deserved to lose her job over it. And tens of thousands of people agree with her: an online petition calling for Bowden’s job to be reinstated now has more than 76,000 signatures.
With the help of a GoFundMe page, the beloved lunch lady had been able to hire an attorney to help challenge her dismissal. Meanwhile, Mayor Brian Blad is in the process of scheduling a meeting with the local superintendent in order to see how this incident is impacting the community.