Thousands Support Lunch Lady Who Was Fired for Giving Free Meal to Hungry Child

What the heck? An Idaho lunch lady was reportedly fired for feeding a hungry child, even though she offered to pay for the school meal herself. Thankfully, Darlene Bowden was offered her job back, but it was only after a social media explosion that culminated in a petition with with tens of thousands of signatures on it.

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Bowden, a cafeteria worker at Irving Middle School in Pocatello, was fired for "theft of school property" after giving a hot meal to a 12-year-old girl with no lunch money on December 15. She told the local news, "I handed her the food and said, 'Here, we'll take care of it in a minute,"' and offered to pay the $1.70 cost.

The school district suggested that she was fired for reasons other than feeding one hungry child, but declined to comment further. In a statement, they said the district "does not and has not ever taken negative employment action against any food service worker due to a singular event of this nature."

It does seem weird that she'd be fired over feeding a hungry kid, but with no other information to go on, what else could it be? Regardless, a petition asking her to be reinstated had gathered nearly 74,000 signatures as of Thursday morning, and she was finally offered her job back.

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In the statement, the school officials said, "In the spirit of the holidays ... the district has been in communication with Ms. Bowden, extending an opportunity for her to return to employment."

What a terrible precedent to set! Kids need to eat to be able to concentrate and do well in class. Yes, there are lunch programs for those in need at public schools, but this kid obviously wasn't on one. Maybe it was a one-time thing for her, or maybe someone could have reached out to her family to help them.

But being fired for feeding a hungry child and offering to pay the cost yourself is just plain ridiculous.

 

Image via © Will & Deni McIntyre/Spaces Images/Corbis

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