School cafeteria worker fired free lunch, paying their $8 lunch tab.
A high school cafeteria worker says she was fired after she allowed a student to eat without paying their $8 lunch tab.
The Union Leader reports that the lunchroom employee at Mascoma Valley Regional High School in New Hampshire was fired after her employer, Cafe Services, accused her of stealing the lunch that she opted not to make the student pay for.
The employee, Bonnie Kimball, reportedly allowed the student to pass through the cafeteria line with the food on his tray without paying on a school day in late March when a manager for her company was present and noticed.
The next day the student came in and paid their outstanding lunch debt, but Kimball was fired later that day for allowing the student to delay payment, she said.
“I was doing what I was told to do,” Kimball said. “We weren’t supposed to pull trays.”
Cafe Service’s contract with the school district was up for renewal at the time, according to the Union Leader. The school district voted this week to renew its contract with the vendor.
Kimball shared a copy of the termination letter she received from Cafe Services with the news outlet. The letter from the company’s director of human resources noted that a district manager was on-site and “witnessed a student coming through the line with multiple food items you did not charge him for.”
“This [is a] violation of our Cash Handling Procedures, the Schools Charge Policy and Federal Regulation governing free meals,” it stated.
Kimball, who had worked at the high school for more than four years, insisted her superiors told her to allow students to take food and instruct them they needed to add funds to their account.
Jaime Matheson, Cafe Services’ human resources director, denied to the news outlet in a statement that Kimball was fired for giving the student a free lunch.
“Fresh Picks Café, a division of Café Services, Inc., would not authorize an employee to not feed a student or a staff member a meal,” Matheson said. “When a student does not have the funds available to pay for a lunch there are set procedures to ensure the student is provided a meal.”
Matheson did not address Kimball’s situation directly, but the Union Leader reports that the human resources official implied that the issue was Kimball giving the student a la carte items instead of the meal of the day.