A Pocatello, Idaho, lunch lady was fired for giving a free lunch to a 12-year-old student who was hungry and had no money.
Dalene Bowden said she received a registered letter from the Pocatello School District informing her of her termination after she was initially placed on leave, reports Idaho State Journal.
Bowden was dismissed from her position due to theft of school district property and inaccurate transactions when ordering, receiving and serving food. The woman offered to pay the $1.70 for the lunch, but her supervisor declined, reports Idaho State Journal.
“This is just breaking my heart,” she told Idaho State Journal. “And they couldn’t even bother to put my check in with the letter.”
An online petition was subsequently launched by Pocatello resident Raushelle Guzman to convince the school district to rehire Bowden.
“I think [Bowden] did the right thing and I think we need to make sure that every child that wants lunch can have lunch,” Guzman said.
“I think the district’s policy needs to be changed. We do not need to humiliate or demean any child or worker in that situation. Students must be provided with an adequate meal.”
Bowden, who worked for the district for three years, said she’s seeking legal counsel regarding her termination letter and the theft accusations.
“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,” she said.
“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?”