Dalene Bowden: Lunch lady fired over free meal offered job back – Watch

Dalene Bowden: Lunch lady fired over free meal offered job back

Dalene Bowden, the school lunch lady who made national headlines after being fired for giving a hungry child free food, has been offered her job back, according to the school district.

Dalene Bowden received a termination letter from the Pocatello School District last week after she gave a tray of food to a 12-year-old student who said she didn’t have money for the meal.

The letter cited theft as the reason for her dismissal. Dalene Bowden, who worked at Irving Middle School in Pocatello in the south east of the state, said a supervisor placed her on leave after witnessing what she had done.

“I truly loved my job, and I can’t say that I wouldn’t do it again,” Dalene Bowden told news station KPVI-TV in Pocatello.

However, the district said in a statement on Wednesday night that it doesn’t fire workers for single events and offered Dalene Bowden her job back in the spirit of the holidays. It’s not clear if she will return.

The district also said it works with various programs to help children who are hungry, need medical care or who are homeless.

It noted that the school could lose federal money if accounting irregularities showed up with missing meals.

“The District jeopardises its funding for the Federal Food Service Program if its employees do not follow the proper procedures and requirements,” the statement said.

Superintendent Doug Howell had been in contact with Dalene Bowden and offered her the chance to return to work, the district’s statement said.

Meanwhile, the city of Pocatello has received so many messages of outrage that it released a statement on Wednesday noting that the city and school district are separate entities and no elected officials were involved in the district’s decisions about Dalene Bowden.

“Mayor [Brian] Blad and the City feel this is an extremely unfortunate situation,” the statement said.

CEO donates $15,000 to fired lunch lady

Aegis Living founder and CEO Dwayne Clark contacted Dalene Bowden on Christmas Eve and donated $15,000 to her cause.

Clark operates assisted living centers throughout the Western states. He is also the author of “My Mother, My Son,” which follows his mother’s struggle with Alzheimer’s.

Clark currently lives in the Seattle area. But he grew up in Lewiston in a household managed by a single mom. And Clark said a lot of lunch ladies helped him out with free meals.

“Compassion and common sense deserve to be rewarded, that’s why I did this,” Clark said Thursday.

A gofundme site also raised more than $19,300 for Dalene Bowden.

Dalene Bowden said her niece started the gofundme site at https://www.gofundme.com/9gfrtcss.

“I was mad at her for doing it at first and I can’t believe that people out there were so generous,” Dalene Bowden said. “It just touches my heart.”

She plans to use part of that money to challenge the district’s policy and her wrongful dismissal.

Dalene Bowden’s story went viral when it appeared in the Journal last week. It has been picked up by the Daily Mail in the United Kingdom, FOX News, “Inside Edition,” TV stations nationwide, Glenn Beck’s network, the Blaze, and media throughout Idaho. It was also the No. 1 trending story on Facebook nationwide on Wednesday afternoon.

Dalene Bowden wiped away tears Thursday and said she was overwhelmed by the response.

“It’s just unbelievable,” she said. “There are a lot of really caring and wonderful people in the world.”

Pocatello Mayor Brian Blad met with Howell Wednesday and said the city was inundated with calls and social media posts regarding Bowden’s firing.

Blad said Wednesday that he likes to look for the silver lining in every cloud, and he was pleased that the district was able to resolve the controversy.

Sportact Editors and Wire Services