Dalene Bowden, the middle school lunch lady who was fired for giving away a free hot lunch to a hungry student, has been offered her job back from the Pocatello School District. Bowden was initially placed on termination leave after she gave a hot lunch worth $1.70 to a hungry 12-year-old student who did not have any money.
Following the incident, Bowden did not express any regret. “She came to me, she said she was hungry and she didn’t have any money,” Bowden told the Idaho Statesman. “I would do it again in the same situation.” The district decided earlier this week to fire its employee of three years because she violated a school policy which states that students who have exceeded an $11 tab are to receive peanut butter and jelly sandwiches if they do not have the money to pay for a hot meal. Bowden offered to pay for the student’s meal, but the district rejected the offer.
In response to her termination, Bowden received an outpouring of support on social media, and one local parent launched a petition to reinstate the popular cafeteria worker. On Thursday, December 24, the district issued a lengthy statement saying that it had offered Bowden her job back.
“During this holiday season, emotions and feelings abound in the spirit of giving and looking after the needs of others,” the statement read in part. “Our district focuses on the success of every student and recognizes nutrition is an important part of each student’s education and learning.” Finally, “the district has been in communication with Ms. Bowden extending an opportunity for her to return to employment with the district.”
It is not yet clear whether Bowden has accepted the offer.