School District Rehires Cafeteria Worker Who Gave Needy Student Free Lunch

Darlene Bowden’s GoFundMe page. CREDIT: SCREENSHOT
Darlene Bowden’s GoFundMe page. CREDIT: SCREENSHOT

Last week, a cafeteria worker at an Idaho middle school was fired for giving a free lunch to a hungry 12-year-old student. On Wednesday, after significant backlash against the school, she was offered her job back.

The Idaho State Journal reported on Wednesday night that the worker, Darlene Bowden, would “have to think about” whether to re-accept the position.

“I’m afraid that they would just make my life miserable and then try to set me up, or get rid of me some other way,” she said.

Bowden was reportedly fired after giving a $1.70 lunch to a 12-year-old girl who didn’t have any money. After her supervisors discovered she had given the lunch away, Bowden offered to pay for it. But her supervisor refused, and eventually fired her.

Afterward, Bowden created a GoFundMe page to get a lawyer. Before noon on Wednesday, Bowden had raised less than $1,000. By Thursday, she had raised more than $17,000.

“I love my job, I really do,” she wrote on the page. “This just breaks my heart, and I was in the wrong, but what do you do when the kid tells you that they’re hungry, and they don’t have any money? I handed her the tray.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 21 million low-income children rely on free or reduced-price school lunches for their nutritional needs on an average school day.