A cafeteria worker fired for giving a student free lunch has been offered the opportunity of a lifetime with one of the world’s most renowned chefs.
Chef José Andrés tweeted the story of Bonnie Kimball Friday and suggested that she should join the celebrity chef at his company.
“New Hampshire school cafeteria worker fired for giving food to student who couldn’t pay … The hero is Bonnie Kimball! If she needs a job we have openings at @thinkfoodgroup if you know her, let her know!” Andrés said in his tweet.
Andrés is known for aiding and feeding disaster-stricken areas, most recently in the island of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.
Kimball said she was terminated March 28 by Fresh Picks, a vendor that supplies food to the Mascoma Valley Regional High School in Canaan. It came a day after she gave a student an $8 lunch, even though he couldn’t pay for it.
Kimball says that when the student's account showed no funds, she quietly told him "tell (your) mom you need money," and provided a lunch. She said a manager just asked what was on the boy's plate and walked away. The next morning the student's bill was paid.
Although the company reportedly offered to rehire the New Hampshire school cafeteria worker, Kimball said she isn’t interested.
The incident comes as schools across the country are struggling to deal with how to address students who can't pay for their lunch. A 2011 survey found that a majority of districts had unpaid lunch charges and that most dealt with it by offering students alternative meals. Last month, federal lawmakers also introduced "anti-lunch shaming" legislation to protect students with unpaid lunch bills. The USDA also discourages practices that stigmatize students, but allows districts to set their own policies.