youtube.com/ABC News
youtube.com/ABC News

Elderly Lunch Lady Gets Fired for Giving Free Lunch to Schoolkid Who Couldn't Pay For It

Dayna Remus
Apr 29, 2022
01:00 A.M.

We constantly find ourselves choosing between money or compassion in today's world. One woman chose the latter. As a consequence, she was punished heavily. But, she decided to speak out and not keep quiet about the alleged injustice.


Bonnie Kimball was an employee at a school cafeteria, feeding kids day in and day out, but one choice brought those days to an end.

In early 2019 in New Hampshire, a boy in the lunch line had no money to pay for his meal. Kimball decided to give him food for free. The next day, her life changed forever.

Bonnie Kimball. | Source: youtube.com/ABC News

Bonnie Kimball. | Source: youtube.com/ABC News


As Kimball claimed, per their agreement, the schoolkid had paid the money the next day. But, the District Manager for Cafe Services did not find this to be an acceptable reason for her helping the boy.

Bonnie Kimball. | Source: youtube.com/ABC News

Bonnie Kimball. | Source: youtube.com/ABC News

Since the incident, the cafeteria lady has spoken up about the alleged injustice against her. She remembered:

"And I'm like, 'Well, he came in and paid for his lunch,' and they said, 'It doesn't matter that was theft'"

They, in essence, fired her for assisting the boy. She claimed that the person who let her go was standing right beside her when the transaction occurred.

Bonnie Kimball. | Source: youtube.com/ABC News

Bonnie Kimball. | Source: youtube.com/ABC News


They also provided her with an official letter of termination, which claimed she violated the company's policy. It partially read:

"On March 28 [2019], a District Manager was on-site and witnessed a student coming through the line with multiple food items. This is in strict violation of our Cash Handling procedures, the Schools Charge Policy, and Federal Regulation regarding free meals."

It then stated that she had been paid for her final month. But, after a while, and strangely enough, Cafe Services changed its tune.

Bonnie Kimball. | Source: youtube.com/ABC News

Bonnie Kimball. | Source: youtube.com/ABC News


A few months after they terminated Kimball, the company attempted to re-employ her. In a statement written about this decision, they wrote:


"We are going to offer to rehire our previously terminated employee."

Cafe Services then claimed that they would also amend the policies the company claimed were grounds for firing the cafeteria lady.

Bonnie Kimball. | Source: youtube.com/ABC News

Bonnie Kimball. | Source: youtube.com/ABC News


Kimball said she hadn't responded to the company. But, she erred on the negative side, expressing, "I still stop by at the school, but it's just not the same as being with them every day."



Eventually, the company spoke up again, claiming that although they respect the privacy of their employees, it is crucial that they speak their side of the story. In essence, they alleged that Kimball had lied:

"The student was not charged for any part of the meal or for additional items. The employee told the manager that she charged the student's account for the lunch, but the manager later confirmed that there were no charges on any account."

This was not all -- Cafe Services also claimed that this specific boy had not been charged for one single meal for the last three months. In response to his claim, Kimball expressed that she was in utter disbelief.



While we do not know the exact circumstances of what happened, we can see an issue at hand here -- focusing on the money or doing at least what is perceived to be the right thing.

Helen Johnson...who had never stolen before, hoped no one would see her.

Who do you think is in the right here, and do you think the company handled the situation well? If not, how do you believe Cafe Services should have approached it?


One aspect of this challenging decision is that food is considered by many to be a fundamental right. So, because of this viewpoint, many are likely to side with the cafeteria worker.

Similarly, one person who likely held this perception treated a starving woman with kindness. This was after the famished person attempted to steal food to feed her starving family.


Trying to put eggs in her pocket without anyone catching her, Helen Johnson from Tarrant, who had never stolen before, hoped no one would see her. Unfortunately, one police officer caught her.

But, instead of handcuffing her, he bought her a carton of eggs, and the two shared a warm hug. This act of kindness was not all. After someone had recorded the interaction and placed it online, donations for Johnson came flooding into the police station.

Surprising her at the house, the officer brought two truckloads of food. Johnson, who was overcome with emotion, gave the cop another embrace.

Kimball and this officer both chose empathy over policy. As the policeman said himself, sometimes applying humanity is more important than following the rules.

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