Lunch lady who gave free meal to hungry child fired for ‘theft’

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POCATELLO, Idaho — A school lunch lady in Idaho claims she was fired from her job last week after she gave a hungry student a free meal.

Dalene Bowden told KPVI that a 12-year-old girl came up to her and said she didn’t have any money for lunch.

“My heart hurts,” Bowden told KPVI. “I truly loved my job, and I can’t say that I wouldn’t do it again.”

Bowden said her supervisor saw her give the little girl food last Tuesday and reported the incident.

“He said I was on permanent leave until he called me. I should not call them. He will call me. And they never called me. I got the letter,” she explained.

The letter said that Bowden was terminated for “theft.”

Social media has since rallied behind Bowden. Since she was fired, Bowden has hired an attorney and started an online petition to help get her job back.

The school district did not respond to KPVI’s request for comment.

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  • Jonathan Brown

    That is outrageous! What possible loss could that school district have suffered from such an act of kindness. She’s not the one who should be discharged. Thank God for local elections. Get rid of the one responsible.

  • Andrew

    I agree with the school on this. The woman should have let the child go hungry. Schools have no justifiable reason for being the ones to provide social services like meals anyway, that should be done by the Social Services Department. If the SSD can’t or won’t do their jobs, the Education Department shouldn’t be the ones to be picking up that slack. Schools should not be in the food service business AT ALL! Kids should bring their own lunches from home or eat whatever gets provided for them by the SSD. The ED/school should not be a part of that equation in any way, shape, or form. Period. But seeing as they are, they should be making a very sharp point of not getting any more involved in it than they absolutely have to so that the criminal job that social services is doing (and the unjustifiable drain it is placing on the public education system) can be illuminated clearly for every voter to see. Yes, that means that some kid doesn’t get lunch one day. So the kid goes hungry until dinner. Big deal. It is more important to see that our federal government is deliberately trying to overwhelm the welfare and education systems in order to promote socialism. (Do a wiki search on the Cloward-Piven strategy to see for yourself. And note that Barack Obama himself has written several papers on the subject while in college.)

  • Teri

    In Wisconsin, the public schools have programs to ensure no school child goes without food during the school day, regardless of income. The schools provide reduced priced or even free breakfasts and lunches to children. That Iowa would fire food service employees for doing what other states already do is deplorable.

  • Gordon N Norma Buzzell


    Our lunch menus reflect our commitment to the highest standards of nutrition while offering fresh, appetizing, and delicious foods. Our hot and cold lunches are carefully planned to include a variety of selections such as assorted fruits, whole grains, breads, vegetables, and fresh salads which students are sure to enjoy each school day. Lunch meals are available at a low-cost or free of charge to all students.

  • Gordon N Norma Buzzell

    “I broke the rules, but I offered to pay for the meal and I don’t think I deserved to lose my job over it,” Bowden said.

    Last week, Interim Superintendent Douglas Howell said District 25 works to make sure children who live in economically disadvantaged homes receive free or reduced hot lunches.

    District 25 also participates in the Idaho Foodbank’s weekend backpack program that sends food items home with students in need each Friday.

    Shelley Allen, spokeswoman for the district, said last week that students who exceed an $11 charge limit are provided something to eat, such as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and milk.

    Parents are notified once the lunch bill reaches the $11 cutoff.

    Bowden said if a child is over the credit limit, workers are supposed to take their tray away and dump it.

    “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 said.

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