The Absurd Reason This Lunch Lady Lost Her Job

December 23rd 2015

A lunch lady named Dalene Bowden was recently fired from Irving Middle School in Pocatello, Idaho, after giving food to a hungry child who had no money.

Last week, a 12-year-old girl approached Bowden and said she was hungry, but couldn't pay for a meal. Bowden told BuzzFeed News that she gave the young girl a free lunch, which cost $1.70, before asking her to move along. Bowden's supervisor saw the whole thing and reported her.

RELATED: Nutrition Isn't the Only Thing Kids Gain From Free School Meals

Even though Bowden offered to pay for the meal herself, she was placed on leave. Shortly thereafter, Bowden received a letter from the school district stating that she had been terminated for “theft/stealing school district…property, and inaccurate, transactions when ordering, receiving, and serving food.” The letter also stated that Bowden would not be receiving her final check for 10 days:


“I know I screwed up, but what are you supposed to do when the kid tells you that they’re hungry and they don’t have any money,” Bowden told the Idaho Statesman.

Bowden, who has worked for District 25 for the past three years, said she has never gotten into any type of trouble on the job, although she was once verbally warned after giving a free cookie to a student. She told the Idaho Statesman that she plans to pursue legal action with regards to her firing.

RELATED: The Quiet Way Food Companies Get You to Eat Junk

“I broke the rules, but I offered to pay for the meal and I don’t think I deserved to lose my job over it,” Bowden said.

Bowden has received an outpouring of support online, and she also created a crowdfunding page to get a "lawyer to change the law." So far, she has received nearly $4,000 on her GoFundMe page. Additionally, there is an online petition with nearly 50,000 signatures calling on the district to rehire Bowden.

Many have taken to social media to condemn the district for dismissing her:

Interim Superintendent Douglas Howell said last week that District 25 is working to provide free or reduced hot lunches to impoverished students, according to the Idaho State Journal. The district also participates in the Idaho Foodbank’s weekend backpack program, which donates food to children in need at the end of each week. A spokesperson for the district told the publication that parents are notified when children go above the $11 credit limit.

Bowden said that workers are supposed to throw away food from the trays if students go over the $11 limit.

RELATED: Fight for $15 Calls for Higher Wages in New York

Share your opinion

Do you think the lunch lady deserved to be fired?

Yes 1%No 99%