As kids, we were often told how an act of kindness can go a long way, but it turns out that these days being kind may get you into trouble.
Bonnie Kimball is an awesome lady who worked at the school cafeteria of Mascoma Valley Regional High School. She really loved her job, although she was given wide array of responsibilities that included operating the cash register, selling drinks, making ice-cream and smoothies, and more.
“We didn’t even call it work. We got up in the morning, we took care of our families and we went to take care of the kids,” she said during an interview.
One day while on the job, a student filled his lunch tray with items worth $8 but didn’t have the money to pay for them. After he told Bonnie about it, she said he could have them and asked him to tell his mom about it so that she could add money to his account.
Bonnie simply couldn’t let the boy stay hungry and she was certain his parents would pay for the lunch as soon as he informs them about it, which is exactly what happened.
This kind act of hers was noticed by the district manager of Café Services – the food services company that employed her, and he believed what Bonnie did was simply wrong. So instead of a praise, she was given the sack.
This happened on March 28, only a day after she let that boy eat the lunch his parents paid for as soon as they were notified about it.
Bonnie recalls how the manager walked past her that day and asked her what was on the boy’s tray. The following day she was handed a letter of termination and was told “not to cause any scenes with the contract.”
“‘Do you understand what you did was wrong? That was theft,’” Bonnie said she was told.
Café Services released a statement once Bonnie’s case was exposed to the public. A spokesperson said that they “would never authorize an employee to not feed a student or staff member a meal.”
Jaime Matheson, the director of human resources, added:
“Although we are not at liberty to discuss the confidential details regarding an employee’s employment or termination from employment, we can share that the company has policies and procedures in place that are shared with and acknowledged by team members.”
“When established policies and procedures are not followed corrective action is put in place up to and including termination.”
The letter of termination, however, clearly stated that the reason for Bonnie losing the job was the incident with the boy. This is what it read:
“On March 28, a District manager was on-site and witnessed a student coming through the line with multiple food items that you did not charge him for. This is a strict violation of our Cash Handling Procedures, the Schools Charge Policy and Federal Regulation governing free meals.”
Two colleagues of Bonnie who said they would act the same if they were her quit their job as a sign of protest against the company and its ridiculous policies.
“These guys really took care of our kids. They put our kids first and their focus was really our kids,” Christina Moodie, a mom of a student from the school said.
Bonnie really misses being around the kids. One may say her job wasn’t anything special and she can always find another one, but the fact is that she really enjoyed working there and she now feels really sad.
“I’m just dealing with so much right now: the public, paperwork. One minute I’m mad and the next minute, I just want to forget it all happened. I guess I’m mourning my job,” she said.
The school district has nothing to do with the incident as Bonnie was hired and later fired by the Café Services. But the school renewing their contract with Bonnie’s former employers speaks of the fact that they didn’t really care for Bonnie’s case.
New Hampshire school cafeteria worker fired for giving food to student who couldn’t pay – WHBQ! The hero is Bonnie Kimball! If she needs a job we have openings at @thinkfoodgroup if you know her, let her know! @NewHampJournal https://t.co/o7JHXgRtn6
— José Andrés (@chefjoseandres) May 17, 2019
However, after the story spread around, the mother of the boy in question was reported to have shared on Facebook that Bonnie giving her son a free meal wasn’t why she was fired. “I have three children, and they are all well-cared for and well-fed,” the mother told the Union Leader, as quoted by The Washington Post. “She did not get fired for feeding a hungry child.”
The president of the Café Services, Brian Stone, on the other hand, claimed that Bonnie had given the teenager much more than just one meal. “This student hadn’t been charged for anything for the previous three months,” Brian said. “This employee was dishonest and was let go for not following procedures.”
Do you believe Bonnie’s termination is unjustified? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.