Lunch lady fired over free meal offered job back

Posted at 2:44 PM, Dec 24, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-24 16:46:50-05

An Idaho lunch lady who said she was fired for giving a free meal to a hungry student lacking money to pay is now being offered her job back, according to the school district.

Darlene Bowden first made headlines after she publicly posted a photo to her Facebook page on Dec. 19 of what appeared to be a notice of termination sent to her by the human resources director for Pocatello/Chubbuck School District No. 25.

They couldn't even include my last check :(

Posted by Dalene Bowden on Saturday, December 19, 2015

"I was a lunch lady at Irving Middle School," Bowden, 51, explained on a GoFundMe page she set up for herself. "I was placed on unpaid leave Tuesday after I gave a free lunch to a 12-year-old student who didn’t have money to pay for her hot lunch .... 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."

According to the apparent notice of termination Bowden posted to Facebook, she was fired due to "theft-stealing [the] school district or another’s property and inaccurate transactions when ordering, receiving and serving food."

After tens of thousands of people signed an online petition asking the school district to reinstate Bowden, the school district released a statement Wednesday night, announcing, "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."

Bowden posted a public status to Facebook today saying she has "yet to get a phone call" from the school district about getting her job back. She asked for the public's "input regarding my job" and added that she felt she would be "walking on eggshells with the school district" if she accepted the offer.

"Nothing is going to be the same," she wrote. "What do I do the next time a kid is hungry? I feed just to get terminated? Please give me your input."

Pocatello/Chubbuck School District No. 25 did not immediately respond to ABC News' requests for additional comment.


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