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Idaho lunch lady fired for giving hungry student free meal

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Wednesday, December 23, 2015, 1:47 PM

A generous Idaho lunch lady says she was fired for giving a hot meal to a hungry child who didn’t have any money — a “theft” that cost the school less than $ 2.

Dalene Bowden said she lost her job in the cafeteria at Pocatello’s Irving Middle School even after she offered to pay the district back for the $ 1.70 lunch.

“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?” the former lunch lady told the Idaho State Journal.

The human resource director of the Pocatello/Chubbuck School District sent Bowden a letter this week informing her she was being dismissed for theft of school property and inaccurate lunchroom transactions.

Idaho lunch lady Dalene Bowden said she was fired after she gave a hungry student without any money a free meal.WPTV NBC

Idaho lunch lady Dalene Bowden said she was fired after she gave a hungry student without any money a free meal.

Bowden said she was serving up lunch last week when a 12-year-old girl told her she was hungry, but couldn’t pay for a meal. The cafeteria worker loaded up the student’s tray with food, and told the girl they would figure out payment later.

Her supervisor saw what happened, and Bowden offered to pay for the meal herself. But her bosses rejected the offer and placed her on immediate leave instead, she said.

Days later, an official letter of termination came from the district.

Raushelle Guzman, of Pocatello mom whose children attend school in the district, organized an online petition asking the school to rehire the lunch lady. By Wednesday, it had more than 45,000 signatures.

“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 told the newspaper. “We do not need to humiliate or demean any child or worker in that situation.”

Bowden, a three-year cafeteria veteran with no disciplinary problems in her file, started an online fundraiser and said she is considering legal action.

Bowden started an online fundraiser after she was fired.GoFundMe

Bowden started an online fundraiser after she was fired.

Still, the lunch lady doesn’t regret handing out the free meal.

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

School district officials did not immediately return the Daily News’ request for comment.

mwagner@nydailynews.com

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