An eastern Idaho lunch lady who was fired after she gave a hot lunch to a hungry student who didn't have enough money to pay for the food has now been offered her job back.
Soon after Dalene Bowden said she had been suspended and then terminated
by the Pocatello/Chubbuck School District, her story was picked up by news outlets across the nation and created a social media firestorm, inspiring a few online fundraising efforts.
Bowden said that when a 12-year-old Irving Middle School student told her she was hungry but didn't have enough money for a hot lunch, Bowden gave her a free meal. Bowden added that she even offered to pay the district the $1.70 for the lunch, but her supervisor rejected the offer. Soon thereafter, Bowden was placed on termination leave and was officially fired a few days later.
Bowden’s story was picked up by the Daily Mail
in the United Kingdom, Fox News, NBC News, Inside Edition
and TV stations across the United States. The story was also the No. 1 trending story on Facebook nationwide on Wednesday afternoon.
The school district had remained silent, but late Wednesday night, district officials released a long statement, insisting that the district "does not and has not ever taken negative employment action against any food service worker due to a singular event of this nature as is being presented through the press and various social media sites."
Nonetheless, the district says it wants to make amends with Bowden:
"Upon return from the holiday break the District will provide our food service staff with additional training on the various ways to get help for hungry children and the importance of the District’s compliance with various state and federal mandates associated with the Federal Food Service Program.In the spirit of the holidays, Superintendent (Doug) Howell advises that the District has been in communication with Ms. Bowden extending an opportunity for her to return to employment with the District." [sic]
As for Bowden, she says she's not overly anxious to accept the district's offer, telling the Idaho State Journal
, "I have to think about it. I'm afraid that they would make my life miserable and then try to set me up, or get ride of me some other way.