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Lunchroom worker fired over free meal now accused of cover-up

CANAAN, N.H. – A lunchroom worker in New Hampshire who said she was fired for allowing a student to take food without paying hadn’t been charging the student for anything for several months, her former employer said.

Bonnie Kimball was fired from her job with Café Services in April after a student at Mascoma Valley Regional High School in Canaan told her he didn’t have money to pay for the items on his lunch tray. She said she let him take the food for free and he paid his $8 lunch tab the next morning.

The Union Leader reports that the boy’s mother shared screengrabs of Facebook messages between Kimball and her son in which the Café Services worker allegedly instructed him to add money the day after her manager saw her giving away food.

“Thank you after that he will be gone,” she wrote. In a message that same day Kimball added, “We will probly (sic) get written up but we can make it look good. Lol.”

The boy’s mother told the paper her three children “are all well-cared for and well-fed,” and that if there was a problem with her son’s account Cafe Services should have contacted her or her husband.

“She did not get fired for feeding a hungry child,” the mother told a Union Leader reporter.

Kimball was dishonest and was let go for not following company procedures, Brian Stone, president of the company’s school division said in a statement Monday. She hadn’t charged the student for any part of the meal but told her manager she did. Every student in the line gets a lunch, so there was no reason for her to not charge the account, according to Stone.

“Despite the fact that the student goes through the line frequently according to the employee, this student hadn’t been charged for anything for the previous three months,” Stone said in a video statement posted on YouTube.

In a written statement, Stone said the student was in line with a full lunch, as well as oven fries and two packages of cookies. When the student got up to the cashier, Kimball grabbed a Powerade and added it to his tray. She then let the student take the full lunch allowed by school policy and also four additional items, Stone said.

“Not only should she not have allowed the additional a la carte items, but she did not record or charge any of the items, including the main lunch, to the student account so they could be paid in the future,” Stone said.

When reached Tuesday, Kimball said: “My lawyer advised me not to speak to anyone.” She declined to give the name of her lawyer.

Kimball was accused of violating the procedures of Café Services as well as federal and school policies, according to a termination letter she provided to CNN. She had worked at Mascoma Valley Regional High School for more than four years, according to the New Hampshire Union Leader.

Kimball said that two other employees in the lunchroom quit in protest of her firing.

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