In Pocatello, Idaho, a lunch lady named Dalene Bowden has been fired for giving a hot lunch to a needy 12-year-old student. She was dismissed for “theft.” The meal cost a grand total of $1.70.
Bowden feels, understandably, that even though her actions were outside of her employer’s guidelines, she shouldn’t have been fired. She even offered to reimburse the school for the meal, she says, but her supervisor wouldn’t take it.
This doesn’t seem like a practical understanding of resource distribution in a country where the Department of Agriculture found 15.3 million children lived in homes with little to no food in 2014.
“This is just breaking my heart,” Bowden said.
Idaho’s District 25 dismissed Bowden in a letter, according to the Idaho State Journal, citing her “theft of school district property and inaccurate transactions when ordering, receiving and serving food.” After learning of her dismissal, a groundswell built on social media, driving 1,800 people in her community to sign a petition urging the district to reinstate the food worker.
The District 25 School Board has arranged a meeting with Bowden but refused to comment about the hubbub, calling it a “personal matter.”
District 25’s Interim Superintendent Douglas Howell says they do feed disadvantaged children with free or low-cost lunches. Children are provided with an $11 food credit limit, and once they exceed that they’re given a different meal, like a peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich with milk.
Like Colorado’s former lunch supervisor Della Curry who fired for the same infraction, Bowden says if a kid’s over their limit, she was instructed to take their usual food tray and throw it in the garbage.
Let’s be better in 2016.
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Image via Getty.