When a student at a New Hampshire high school put items on his tray that he didn’t have the money for, Bonnie Kimball didn’t think it was a big deal. The student had promised to come back with the money from their parents the following day. Since Bonnie knew the student personally and their family, she was sure they would make good on their debt.
While that sounded reasonable, a district manager from her employer, Café Services, didn’t think so. After witnessing the incident during an inspection in March, Bonnie was fired the next day.
“The student didn’t have any money on their account. 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.'”
The kid said he would tell his mom and Bonnie thought that was that until she was fired the next day. Understandably, Bonnie is devastated.
“It was my life for five years. I went and I took care of another family. You don’t just lose a family member, be OK and move on.”
Café Services explained in a letter the reason for Bonnie’s termination.
“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 in strict violation of our Cash Handling Procedures, the Schools Charge Policy and Federal Regulation governing free meals. Your final has been processed and disbursed to you.”
Director of Human Resources for Cafe Services Jaime Matheson said the student wouldn’t have been without a meal.
“The student in question did receive a lunch. Students who come up to the lunch line without money receive a lunch of an entrée or sandwich plus side dishes or fresh fruit and milk. An employee of the company would not be let go because they provide this lunch to a student.
We can’t get into specifics because personnel decisions are confidential to honor privacy, however, employees receive and sign their acknowledgment to company policies. When these aren’t followed, corrective action is put in place, up to and including termination. We’re all proud of our ability to provide meals to those in need.”
Bonnie shared that the incident is not the fault of the school district, adding that she has received encouragement from officials. Despite having four grandchildren in the school district, said she had no intention of returning and accused the company of only offering to rehire her “so that it could keep its contract.”
According to local reports, two other members of catering staff have quit in protest following Bonnie’s dismissal.
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