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.
Money is a topic that is difficult to talk about. Traditionally, society has told us that there are three things that we should not talk about in polite company: religion, politics, and money. Well, politics seems to be the only thing anyone talks about these days. As for religion, well, I’m of the “to each their own” policy. But money is something that we often still ignore — especially when it comes to frank discussions about debt.
Nobody likes to admit that they have debt. Whether it’s credit card debt, student loans, or paying off cars, most of us have something that we’re keeping quiet about. According to CNBC, 70 percent of college students are graduating with a “significant amount of loans” which total $1.5 trillion in debt for the over 44 million Americans who have student loan debt. In fact, a recent survey revealed that two-thirds of millennials have at least $10,000 in student debt and more than a third admitted to over $30,000 in debt, according to Inc.
Even worse, 42 percent of those that had more than $30,000 in debt were women and 11 percent of millennials have over $100,000 in student loan debt. Unsurprisingly, credit card debt is actually even higher for millennials (at 46 percent) and car loans come in just behind student loans (at 34 percent). Then there’s also medical debt to think about, as well as the 20 percent of millennials who actually have a mortgage.
Some of us, like me, have debt in all of the categories.
When my husband and I met and moved in together just six weeks into our relationship, we did it because we were in love and knew we wanted to be together for the long haul.
However, what we didn’t know at the time (and came to learn very quickly) is that we both came with a heaping amount of debt. Now, two and a half years into our relationship and nine months into our marriage, I can tell you that our debt has only increased: Collectively, we have around $150,000 in debt — about $100k of that in student loans, $40k in car loans, and another $10k in credit cards and medical bills. Add to that the fact that we just bought our first house and, well, our financial situation has gotten a bit more complicated.
It’s not easy to talk about finances, and it’s especially not an easy thing to do with someone you love. Sadly, money is often cited as a common cause of marriages falling apart — which is precisely why my husband and I are trying to tackle these issues sooner than later. I know that we won’t get out of debt any time soon, but having a secure financial plan is a good way to step into our future, together. So, shortly, after getting married, we decided to speak with some financial experts about how exactly to tackle our $150k in debt… WITHOUT driving each other crazy or stopping some of our other personal goals (like traveling together or having kids in the next couple of years).
Nora Dunn, a former Certified Financial Planner and blogger behind the financially savvy travel site, The Professional Hobo, told us that a lot of it depends on what we as a couple are earning and what our goals are. Dunn advised that my husband and I evaluate the importance of each of our goals. Was buying a house more important than taking vacation? How much did we expect to spend on a house based on the market in our area? According to her, it was all about taking an ‘everything in moderation’ plan, where we would examine our take-home income and expenses, and then divide our disposable income between different goals, depending on how our goals are prioritized.
After some discussion, we decided that prioritizing goals, and dividing our income accordingly, definitely seemed like a good place to start. In fact, Shana Bickel, CPA and Financial Coach, mirrored that advice when she told me that “it is not for me to tell the couple how to prioritize their financial goals.” The important thing, she says, is “to identify and get very clear about those goals and then develop a plan to pay off debt while saving for a home and allowing travel that makes sense for their financial health and well being.”
Another financial expert took a more straightforward approach.
“Sell those cars!” said Lynne Somerman and The Wiser Miser. “If you’ve got big financial goals like this, there’s no situation where I can recommend $40K in car loans when you can buy a reliable used vehicle for $10K. Even assuming you still need two cars, that’s $30K that you’ve now got towards a down payment. After that, it would depend on the type and interest rates on the student loans. If they’re private loans, go aggressively after them. If the interest is higher than about 4-5% on the student loans, they’d be my next priority. If their income is high enough, you could do both here.”
“Get those cars paid off and drive them forever!” he advised. “You don’t need a new car every two or three years. My car is paid off, and I plan to drive it forever. Each of those car payments is like a trip to Europe each year. Would you rather have a brand new car or a trip to Europe?”
He’s definitely right about that, which is why we have made paying off our cars our #2 priority (after paying off our credit cards), since we’d also like to save for an international trip in the near future. Rae also reminds me that, although student loans are important, so is saving for retirement.
“The student loans are going to take a long time to pay off. Get serious about them, but make sure to contribute to your retirement at least enough to get a company match,” he said. “This will be like free money from your boss, and the government will give you break on your taxes.”
Meanwhile, Ashley Feinstein Gerstley, a money coach who runs The Fiscal Femme, said that it is all about opportunity cost.
“We can only use or spend each dollar we have once, no matter how much or little money we have,” she reminds me. “How can we use it in a way that will maximize our joy per dollar in the shorter and long-term? It’s about looking at each option and choosing consciously. If a couple is paying down their debt and that’s really important to them but they also want to travel, they might decide to let go of expenses in other areas to make that work. What expenses aren’t bringing them much joy? Would they rather live in a less expensive apartment for the time being so that they have more money to travel? When we take a look at each expense annually (including our bills) it’s much easier to see where our money is going and decide if we want to allocate it any differently.”
Taking a look at our overall finances, my husband and I were able to use this advice to devise some financial goals, set some priorities, create a payment plan, and figure out what we want to save for.
It took some serious negotiating but we came away with a clearer picture of our finances. It’s not going to be easy, mind you. Having debt as a couple is difficult, but unfortunately, something that almost all of us face these days. If you don’t have student loans, then you might have a car payment or credit card debt or medical bills from that time before ACA when you didn’t have health insurance and ended up in the hospital (guilty!). But ultimately, the best thing you can do for yourself when it comes to your finances, whether you are coupled up or not, is to do the work to figure it out.
As Rae put it, “Get serious about your finances now — it won’t get easier when you have kids. You may make more money but you will be busier and tired. Parenting is hard. Just saying.”
A group of high school cheerleaders rallied against the violence that indigenous women are subject to everyday in the US. They did so without express permission from their high school. But for these students, honoring missing and murdered indigenous women, was more important.
Daunette Reyome and her cheerleading squad walked onto the basketball court with red handprints painted over their faces and signs showing Daunnette’s late aunt, Ashlea Aldrich.
The team wanted to call attention to the many missing and murdered indigenous women whose cases are never solved. The red hands painted over their mouths, Daunette said, represented the people who seek to silence them.
The cheerleaders held this memorial even after the school refused to give them permission.
“[During] half time, we grabbed pictures of [Aldrich] and stood on opposite sides of the gym and formed an ‘A’ in the middle. We had a moment of silence and showed pictures of her off to our fans,” Daunnette told Teen Vogue. “We presented those pictures to her parents, and myself and my teammates gifted them a blanket and a beaded necklace and beaded earrings.”
Daunnette, who is part of the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska told MTV, “My aunt means more to me than a cheer uniform and pom-poms ever will.”
She told MTV News she spoke with school authorities a week prior to the basketball game against Wynot Public School; she said that while they were supportive at first, school officials later changed their minds. “That upset me, but it wasn’t going to stop me,” she said, adding that she and her co-captain “decided we wouldn’t allow anyone to be the hand that silences us, no matter the consequences. You’re going to listen to our message.”
In photos Daunnette posted to Instagram, her cheer squad can be seen standing on the sidelines of the basketball court, red handprints across their mouths.
At one point, they took to the center of the court to display their posters of Daunnette’s aunt Ashlea Aldrich and her sons.
A graduate of Omaha Nation Public School in Macy, Nebraska, the 29-year-old earned a certification in cosmetology and devoted most of her time to her two sons.
“She was a laid-back person, always giving, and so forgiving,” her mother, Tillie Aldrich remembered. Yet while Aldrich had her family’s support in raising her boys, her mother also recalled a pattern of domestic violence —and that Ashlea felt like she had no support from law enforcement when trying to protect herself.
Ashlea was among the 84 percent of Indigenous women who have been subjected to violence in their lifetimes. “I wrote a letter to the Omaha Tribal Council in 2017 because I was just fed up,” Tillie said. “And in that letter I said my daughter’s going to end up getting hurt and possibly be killed. And that’s exactly what happened.”
Tillie Aldrich, told Teen Vogue that her daughter’s body was found by a creek in the Omaha Reservation in Nebraska, where the family lives.
Her death is still under investigation according to the family, but Tillie Aldrich said she was told police treated the initial scene as a homicide. Omaha Nation Law Enforcement would not comment on any details, nor confirm or deny any investigation.
Daunnette’s memorial was the first one Tillie Aldrich attended, and she said she was touched by the outpouring of love and support.
Tillie hopes that Daunnette’s demonstration not only calls attention to her daughter’s death, but to the many indigenous women who go missing or are murdered.”I live on a reservation, it’s word of mouth. We can report [someone missing or dead] to the authorities,” Tillie Aldrich said. “If we have a non-Native [person] missing in a city 25 miles north of us, it’s all over the news, the newspapers, posters going up. If we have someone missing, one of our Native missing, they try to keep it quiet.”
Native American women are being murdered and sexually assaulted on reservations and nearby towns at higher rates than other American women.
In some U.S. counties composed primarily of Native American lands, murder rates of Native American women are up to 10 times higher than the national average for all races, according to a study for the U.S. Department of Justice by sociologists at the University of Delaware and University of North Carolina, Wilmington.
“The numbers are likely much higher because cases are often under-reported and data isn’t officially collected,”
The U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat from North Dakota, has introduced legislation to improve how law enforcement keeps track of missing and murdered indigenous women. “(Murder and sexual assault) is a real fear amongst Native American women,” said Lisa Brunner, co-director of Indigenous Women’s Human Rights Collective and professor and cultural coordinator at White Earth Tribal and Community College in Mahnomen, Minnesota.
That’s what Daunnette said she hopes her cheerleading team called attention to.
“I want people to know it’s more than just a red handprint over your face,” Daunnette said. “It’s an actual problem in our community. Our women go missing every day, and a lot go with their cases unsolved and unfound. It is a big problem in Indian Country. It is something I feel like needs to be talked about.”
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