A cafeteria worker from New Hampshire is speaking out to claim that she was fired for providing lunch to a high school student who didn’t have money for a meal.

On March 28, Bonnie Kimball was working the register at the Mascoma Valley Regional High School cafeteria when she saw that a male student’s account said that he had no funds. Bonnie’s heart went out to the teenager, so she told him “tell (your) mom you need money,” and let him walk away with his meal.

She said that a manager saw the encounter and confronted her, asking her why she allowed the student to leave without paying for his food. Less than a week later, Bonnie was fired from her job at the cafeteria. Days after her firing, Bonnie 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. “This is in strict violation of our Cash Handling Procedures, the School Charge Policy and Federal Regulation governing free meals.”

A spokesperson for the company said that they “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.” Jaime later added that she is “not at liberty to discuss the confidential details regarding an employee’s employment or termination from employment.”

“When established policies and procedures are not followed corrective action is put in place up to and including termination,” Jaime said.

This week, the school district voted to continue to do business with the company for another year, despite the situation with Bonnie.

“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.”

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