Dec. 22, 2015
Dalene Bowden got the news she had feared: she's fired.
The ex-food service worker at Pocatello's Irving Middle School had got into hot water for given a free lunch to a student who said she was hungry was officially terminated this week.
The Idaho State Journal reports
that Bowden received a registered letter from the Pocatello/Chubbuck School District, saying she was dismssed "due to her theft of school district property and inaccurate transactions when ordering, receiving and serving food.
Bowden insist that when a 12-year-old girl told her that she was hungry but didn't have enough funds 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 this morning's State Journal
reports that Bowden is now officially gone. School officials are declining to comment on the issue.
“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 State Journal.
Dec. 20, 2015
Dalene Bowden says she won't apologize for giving a meal to a hungry Idaho student who didn't have enough money to afford it. Bowden is a lunch lady at Pocatello's Irving Middle School
—at least, she is for now. Bowden has been placed on unpaid leave for her actions.
This morning's Idaho State Journal reports
Bowden has been working the lunch line for the Pocatello/Chubbuck School District for the past three years. Bowden said she's never been in trouble before, with one familiar exception: she once gave away a cookie and was given a verbal warning.
"I love my job, I really do,” Bowden told the Journal
. “This just breaks my heart, and I was in the wrong, but what do you do when the kid tells you that they’re hungry and they don’t have any money? I handed her the tray.”
School district officials said kids can have up to $11 of lunches on a "charge" account to their parents. Officials added that the district "makes extreme efforts to make sure children who live in economically disadvantaged homes receive free or reduced hot lunches." Without discussing the details of the incident involving Bowden, district officials insist a student was not deprived of a lunch.
Bowden said she did give a lunch to the student and when a supervisor questioned her, she offered to pay the $1.70 for the hot lunch. Instead she was placed on what she said was "termination leave" and the school board will discuss her status at an upcoming meeting.
“She came to me, she said she was hungry and she didn’t have any money,” Bowden told the Journal.
“I would do it again in the same situation.”