Things That Matter

A Lunchroom Lady Was Fired After Giving A Child A Free Meal, Who Couldn’t Afford Lunch, Now Chef José Andrés Wants To Hire Her

Spanish chef José Andrés emerged as a force in 2017 after Hurricane Maria when he made great strides to provide disaster relief in Puerto Rico. In the wake of the hurricane’s disaster, the world-renowned chef arranged a grass-roots movement to provide the island with food supplies, communication, and cooked meals. Within a month, Andrés and his organization World Central Kitchen provided over two million meals to Puerto Ricans.

Now, the chef is stepping up to give back one more person their livelihood. This time to Bonnie Kimball, a school cafeteria worker.

Kimball was fired by a school’s vendor after providing a free lunch to a student who had zero funds in his account.

Kimball was fired from Mascoma Valley Regional High School in New Hampshire on March 28 by Fresh Picks. The brand supplies food to the high school which is located in Manchester, New Hampshire. She had been working at the school for four years. According to CBS Boston, when Kimball encountered the student she told him “tell (your) mom you need money” but gave him his lunch anyway. Afterward, a  manager asked what had been on the student’s plate and then walked away. The next morning the student paid his bill of $8.

According to a report by the Associated Press, Kimball said that the student comes from a family that “is very well known in this town and I can guarantee that if I called his mother, she would have come right in and paid the bill. But I didn’t want to get her out of work… know they would have brought the money the next day. The bill was going to get paid.”

But soon after, Kimball was fired. It didn’t take long for Kimball’s fellow employees to quit over her firing or for others to protest it online and soon enough Fresh Picks says it offered Kimball her job back.

The company said they would her back pay and would “work with the school district to revise policies and procedures regarding transactions.”

But Kimball says she has yet to hear of any job offer from the company and said that she would not be returning.

Kimball says that she was fired by the district manager of the company that employed her and that she was told what she did was “theft.”

“They’re not doing [offering the job again] for me, they are doing it to save face,” Kimball explained.

It didn’t take long for Kimball’s story to go viral or for Chef Andrés to find out about her actions.

Soon after, the chef called her a “hero” and offered her a job.

“If she needs a job we have openings at @thinkfoodgroup,” he wrote in a post to Twitter. ‘If you know her, let her know.”

ThinkFoodGroup provides services to hotels, products, initiatives, and restaurants that across the country including cities such as Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Vegas, Miami, Puerto Rico, and Mexico City.