New Hampshire school lunch lady Bonnie Kimball was fired after she gave a lunch to a hungry student who didn’t have any money, but now famed chef Jose Andres has stepped in to help her find a new job.
Kimball’s story gained viral interest this week after her school fired her for allowing the student to eat lunch without paying. As The Union Leader reported, the Mascoma Valley Regional High School lunchroom employee said she believed she was doing the right thing when she allowed the student to take food without paying. Kimball said she had worked at the school for more than four years and had gotten to know the students, including the circumstances some of them faced at home.
“We know these kids,” Kimball said.
The student in question had several a la carte items on his tray, but his account was $8 in the negative. Kimball quietly told the boy to have his mother put more money on the account and let him take the food. The following day, the student returned with the money to pay his bill.
Kimball said she had been told by her manager to let students take food if they had no money in their accounts to pay for it, and discretely tell them to add more money to the account. Employees were instructed not to “pull trays” from students who were hungry but had no money to pay, Kimball said.
But she was fired anyway, leading to something of a protest in the lunchroom as two other employees quit. It also sparked a national controversy against the school’s actions and support from all corners of the nation for Kimball.
Chef Jose Andres is now doing his part to help. The longtime activist and humanitarian posted this week that his company is willing to help Bonnie Kimball, including a link to the job openings for food staff.
New Hampshire school cafeteria worker fired for giving food to student who couldn't pay – WHBQ! The hero is Bonnie Kimball! If she needs a job we have openings at @thinkfoodgroup if you know her, let her know! @NewHampJournal https://t.co/o7JHXgRtn6
— José Andrés (@chefjoseandres) May 17, 2019
Andres has been known for his acts of charity and his opposition to Donald Trump. He has earned a Nobel Peace Prize nomination for his work in feeding people affected by natural disasters, including the recent hurricane that ravaged Puerto Rico. Late last year, when Trump’s demand for border wall funding led to a federal government shutdown, Andres offered free food for all those left out of work.
“And I will offer again Free Sandwiches to the poor men and women of the federal government, republicans and democrats, at every restaurant of mine in DC for lunch until they get paid again!” he tweeted.
— Bella (@Bella86714569) May 18, 2019
It was not yet clear if Bonnie Kimball planned to take Andres up on his offer of a job. As USA Today reported, Kimball has been offered her school job back after the national outrage her firing caused.