No good deed goes unpunished. That saying rings true for a lunch lady in New Hampshire who recently lost her job for doing a good thing. On March 28, Bonnie Kimball was fired from her job at Mascoma Valley Regional High School where she spent five years working the main lunch line in the cafeteria. The reason? One of the children didn’t have enough money on his account, so Kimball reminded him to bring money the next day, and the boy took his meal.
“When I rang him up, the student didn’t have any one on their account,” Kimball explains. “So, I have a district manager here, my boss has told me ‘Don’t cause any scenes with the contract’ and I quietly said ‘tell (your) mom you need money.’” When the student agreed, and went to eat, the manager asked what was on his plate and then walked away. The next day, she was let go.
Kimball has had the opportunity to get to know the students, who she sees every single day. She didn’t want to bother the child’s mom at work, especially when she knew the money would be put in his account. And, she was right. The very next day, the eight dollar meal was paid off.
At the time of the incident, tensions between Cafe Services, the company responsible for Mascoma’s food services under its Fresh Picks subsidiary (and whose contract also happens to be expiring), and rival company, the Abbey Group, were high. The administration was trying to decide whether or not they would switch to using the Abbey Group. After her story received plenty of attention, Fresh Picks offered to give Kimball back her job, but she turned down the offer.
Students and staff are rallying behind a Mascoma Valley Regional High School lunch lady fired for allowing a boy to run up an $8 lunch debt rather than go hungy. Bonnie Kimball thought she was doing the right thing and the parent did eventually pay. https://t.co/y65rc8oGjX pic.twitter.com/eds9teHG2m— UnionLeader.com (@UnionLeader) May 15, 2019
She stated that she believed that Fresh Picks was only offering to give her back the position so that it could keep its contract with the school.
Considering that 1 in 6 American children may not know where their next meal is coming from, and 22 million children in America rely on the free or reduced-price lunch that they receive at school, it seems that the world could use more people like Kimball.
In a review that Kimball shared with Valley News, her supervisor wrote, “Bonnie is very dependable and reliable. She is willing to work extra hours to cover other’s time away and is willing to help with special functions.” It’s unfortunate that an act of kindness has resulted in such an unfortunate outcome.
However, with job offers coming in from world-renowned chefs, we are hopeful that there are bigger and brighter things ahead in Kimball’s future.
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
Nice guys (and lunch ladies) don’t have to finish last!