Lunch lady says she was fired for giving hungry student free lunch

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POCATELLO, Idaho — Days before Christmas, a school lunch lady in Idaho is out of a job allegedly because she gave free lunch to a student who said she didn’t have any money for food.

Dalene Bowden told CNN affiliate KPVI she gave the meal to a girl last week at Irving Middle School.

“My heart hurts. I truly loved my job, and I can’t say that I wouldn’t do it again,” Bowden told the station.

When asked why she did it, at risk of losing her job, Bowden said she simply had to help the young girl.

“Cause they’re hungry. What do you do? Send them out there, so they can get it taken away and thrown away? No!” she told KPVI.

Bowden was working Dec. 15 as a server when a 12-year-old told her she was hungry, but didn’t have any money to buy lunch at school.

“So, I handed her the food and said, ‘Here. We’ll take care of it in a minute,” Bowden said.

KPVI reached out to the school district for comment, but did not receive a response.

The former lunch lady’s supervisor saw the exchange and reported her, Bowden said.

“He said I was on permanent leave — until he called me, I should not call them. He will call me. And they never called me. I got the letter,” she said.

The letter, written and signed by School District 25’s director of human resources, said Bowden was being terminated for “theft.”

“I understand rules, but not when a child is hungry,” resident Jennifer Otte said.

Bowden’s story has traveled across the country and through social media she’s rallied countless supporters.

She’s hired an attorney and an online petition calling for her reinstatement is growing.