School Lunch Lady Fired Over Compassion For Hungry Student

Pocatello/Chubbuck School District in Idaho got in the spirit of the Grinch when it fired Dalene Bowden over $1.70. Bowden was reportedly fired over the compassion she showed for a hungry student at Irving Middle School who said she didn’t have the money for the hot lunch.

Last week, Bowden was fired over her compassion after three years of working at Irving Middle School. She said she was promptly reported by her supervisor for the incident, according to the Washington Times, and the incident was listed as a theft of school property and inaccurate transactions when ordering, receiving, and serving food.

Bowden also said that while she was experiencing a great deal of heartache over the firing, she could not guarantee that she would not take similar action in the future.

Bowden apparently offered to reimburse the $1.70, but her supervisor told her she was placed on permanent leave until she was called. Bowden reported that she never received a phone call; the registered letter signed by District 25 Director of Human Resources Susan Petit telling her she was fired only recently arrived in the mail.

Social media supporters, though, rallied around the lunch lady who was seemingly fired over her compassion for a hungry student. While Bowden has hired a lawyer to examine whether or not she should have been dismissed over $1.70, an online petition created in her honor has garnered over 50,000 signatures.

It would appear that Bowden has been offered her job back, although a news release published by East Idaho News declined to comment on specifics in the matter.

“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,” the release said.

The release does not discuss whether or not its lunch lady was indeed fired over her compassion for a hungry student, but it does further outline the efforts made by the school district to ensure no student goes hungry. It did say, however, that the district would offer further training to its food service workers in order to prevent incidents such as the one that Bowden found herself in from occurring in the future.

“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,” the release said.

Bowden told the Washington Times that while she acknowledged her actions were not in line with pre-existing policies with the district, she did not feel badly for being apparently fired over the compassion she showed for a student.

“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,” she said.


According to Examiner, Bowden was fired without her final paycheck even being issued. However, Bowden was written up one other time in her three-year tenure at Irving Middle School for giving a student a free cookie.

Examiner also reported that a credit of up to $11 can be extended to each student, so it currently remains unclear as to why Bowden would have been fired over $1.70, as the student in question may well have had another $9.30 to access on her meal credit.

Raushelle Guzman started the online petition in the fight to get Bowden’s job back and said that she felt “the district’s policy needs to be changed. We do not need to humiliate or demean any child or worker in that situation. Students must be provided with an adequate meal.”

Whether or not Bowden was fired over her compassion for a student, it appears that she is in line to get her job back, albeit with some extra training to go along with it.

[Image via Shutterstock]