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Lunch lady loses job over free meal

Published: Tuesday, December 22, 2015 @ 12:18 PM
Updated: Tuesday, December 22, 2015 @ 12:18 PM

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A cafeteria worker at an Idaho public school is facing termination after giving a student a $1.70 lunch.

Dalene Bowden was put on unpaid leave Dec. 15 after giving a 12-year-old student, who said she did not have money, a free lunch, according to the Idaho Statesman.

“This just breaks my heart,” Bowden told the Idaho Statesman. “I was in the wrong, but what do you do when the kid tells you that they’re hungry, and they don’t have any money? I handed her the tray.”

Bowden offered to pay for the $1.70 lunch but her supervisor placed her on termination leave until the matter is discussed by the Pocatello/Chubbuck School District 25.

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Interim Superintendent Douglas Howell said the district makes sure that economically disadvantaged students receive free or reduced-price lunches. Students can charge up to $11 in the lunchroom before parents are notified, according to the Idaho Statesman.

“We didn’t take a meal away from a child,” Howell told the Idaho Statesman.

He said he could not discuss Bowden’s incident.

A Facebook group, “Give Dalene Bowden her job back” formed to support her.

A photo with a letter to Bowden posted Dec. 19 indicates that the district fired her.

“The reason for your termination is due to your theft -- stealing school district or another’s property and inaccurate transactions when ordering, receiving and serving food,” the letter reads.

This is horrible!!!! This woman has a Conscience and was punished for it!!! This is the letter she received from the school district.

Posted by Give Dalene Bowden her job back on Saturday, December 19, 2015

Bowden later found out that the student was within her $11 limit but did not know she could have charged the lunch.

“I would do it again in the same situation,” Bowden told the Idaho Statesman.

She started a GoFundMe to "fight back." 

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