Bonnie Kimball wasn't just fired from her school cafeteria job for letting a student take a lunch even though he didn't have the money to pay for it, she was accused of stealing $8—the retail price of the lunch. When the boy came through the line with several a la carte items on his tray, the Union Leader reports, Kimball quietly told him to have his mother put some money is his account. She'd worked at Mascoma Valley Regional High School in New Hampshire for more than four years and is aware of the children's circumstances. "We know these kids," Kimball said. But the food vendor—Kimball's employer—was at the school monitoring operations that day; the contract was up for renewal. The student paid his bill the next day, but Kimball was fired that afternoon anyway. The letter she was given accused her of theft.
Kimball said her direct manager had told her to handle the situation exactly the way she handled it; the manager didn't want any issues while the contract was up. “We weren’t supposed to pull trays,” she said. The school board chairman wouldn't discuss the case but said: "The policy is that the student be fed. There’s no refusal"—though it might be the case that the student is supposed to be given the lunch of the day, not a la carte items. Two of Kimball's colleagues quit in protest. And the school board voted to renew the vendor's contract for another year, at $560,000. Meanwhile, Kimball is struggling with the loss of her job. "We didn’t even call it work," Kimball said, per the Valley News. "We got up in the morning, we took care of our families and we went to take care of the kids," she says, adding, "You don’t just lose a family member, be OK and move on." (School reverses unpopular lunch debt plan.)