In a surprising twist to the viral story about the cafeteria lady who was fired for giving a student a free meal, the catering company that serves the Mascoma Valley school district revealed that the student in question had actually not been charged for meals in three months.
On March 28th, Bonnie Kimball was fired from her job as a cafeteria worker because she allegedly gave a student $8 worth of free food when he was low on funds.
According to a report by Union Leader, Bonnie Kimball, the cafeteria lady at the center of the scandal, claimed she had been giving the boy food for free because he was a “popular jock”.
According to Café Services, Inc, it is district policy that “every student in the lunch line gets lunch” and “now that there is a change in staff, this student’s account shows regular activity”, when in the three months previous, the account had showed no transactions. “This employee was dishonest and was let go for not following procedures,” said Brian Stone, President of Fresh Picks Cafe.
The story gained traction and international attention when celebrity chef José Andrés tweeted out his support of Kimball and offered her a job in his charity organization, World Central Kitchen.
At the time, the backlash to Kimball’s termination was so widespread and severe that the school district apologized and offered Kimball her job back.
“It is our goal to do right by our families, community, students and employees,” Superintendent Amanda Isabelle said at the time. “The events of these past few weeks and the feedback I have received from parents has given me considerable pause.”
But as more evidence came to light on the cafeteria worker’s motivations, the situation appears to be more complicated.
According to a statement by Fresh Picks, the catering company under contract with the Mascoma Valley school district, Kimball was initially dishonest about charging the boy as well as the amount of funds in the boy’s account.
“The employee told the manager that she charged the student’s account for the lunch,” said Stone in a recorded statement. “But, the manager later confirmed there were no charges on the account. So, what the employee said was not true.”
Additionally, the mother of the 17-year-old boy says that Kimball has been privately messaging her son on Facebook.
The mother of the 17-year-old male student has revealed to the press that Kimball has been messaging her son on Facebook in order to orchestrate what appears to be a cover-up. According to the message, Kimball told the boy to load money to his card for the next day because she knew her manager would be watching her.
“We will prolly [sic] get written up, but we can make it look good. Lol,” Kimball allegedly wrote to the teen through Facebook messages.
“What kind of an adult says that to a child?,” said the boy’s mother to the Union Leader.
The mother of the 17-year-old student also wanted to clarify the false reports that her child was too poor to afford lunch or was “going hungry”.
“I have three children, and they are all well-cared for and well-fed”, she said. “She did not get fired for feeding a hungry child”.