School Lunch Lady Fired For Giving Food To Hungry 12-Year-Old Student

Posted by | December 23, 2015 10:17 | Filed under: Andrew Bradford Contributors News Behaving Badly

Darlene Bowden did what any of us would have done had we been in a similar situation: She fed a hungry child who didn’t have enough money to pay for a school lunch. And now she’s unemployed due to her act of kindness and compassion.

Bowden was employed as a cafeteria worker at Pocatello Middle School in Idaho. One day a child came through the lunch line and said she didn’t have the $1.70 for the daily meal. So Bowden gave the child a meal for free. When this was discovered, she was placed on unpaid leave even though she offered to reimburse the school for the cost of the meal. Shecommented:

This just breaks my heart. 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….READ MORE at LiberalAmerica

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Copyright 2015 Liberaland
By: Andrew Bradford

Andrew Bradford is an author, academic, and political activist who lives in Atlanta. He is a Senior Writer for Liberal America and also has his own blog at

68 responses to School Lunch Lady Fired For Giving Food To Hungry 12-Year-Old Student

  1. Larry Schmitt December 23rd, 2015 at 10:21

    I assume there will be lots of unwanted media attention and the school administrators will be embarrassed into backtracking on their decision. A little thought before acting would have been helpful. Maybe this will force them to have a clear policy on what to do in similar situations.

    • rg9rts December 23rd, 2015 at 10:31

      Probably pro lifers…only in the womb is there any interest

      • Larry Schmitt December 23rd, 2015 at 10:35

        In general I agree with you, but in this case I don’t think their decision had any politics in it. It was just a decision made without any thought going into it. And every school district with free meal programs needs to have a policy to make it clear how to handle these situations. I’ve seen districts in other areas decide to feed the kids, and take care of the paperwork (send a letter to the parents) afterword. No need to embarrass the children in front of their friends.

    • Roctuna December 23rd, 2015 at 11:34

      Even if there’s unwanted media attention, don’t hold your breath waiting for the admin to change. The background stories reveal that students are allowed $11 credit but if student exceeds their whopping $11 limit (only 6-7 meals @$1.70/meal) the food service is supposed to throw away their tray. That sounds like a zero-tolerance policy to me. These policies pervade the public school system because it gives the admin cover when they’re “forced” to do unreasonable things like this. It’s a version of the “I’m just following orders” excuse for being inhumane.

      • rg9rts December 23rd, 2015 at 11:55

        Didn’t the Nazis use that as a defense??? Only following orders?

      • Lyndia December 23rd, 2015 at 20:12

        There are HORRIBLE principals in these schools, but no one has the nerve to get rid of them. It may be political.

    • Buford2k11 December 23rd, 2015 at 13:20

      yes…and there are solutions way too simple for these folks…we have a simple system here, and it works without any conflict or stupidity…What we are seeing is the example of years of republican victories, and years of malpractice of republican lawmakers when it comes to providing the resources necessary to teach these kids…the Tax breaks for the wealthy can be directly linked to the underfunding of public education, as well as, the misappropriation of public funds to private and religious schools…You knew that…didn’t ya….

  2. rg9rts December 23rd, 2015 at 10:30

    No good deed goes unpunished

  3. whatthe46 December 23rd, 2015 at 10:42

    a california teacher had been found molesting his students, he was NOT fired, but resigned at the request of the school district with a nice severance pay. and this woman gives a child FOOD and is fired. but, pro-life is really pro-birth, when you’re born, you’re on you own.

  4. aNYYANKEEinQueenHaleysCourt December 23rd, 2015 at 10:50

    APRIL FOOLS…wait I mean MERRY CHRISTMAS….are you kidding me?

  5. William December 23rd, 2015 at 11:21

    I hope there is a gofundme established for this person. One thing is for sure. We no longer need worry about radicalized Muslims destroying Christianity in America. We will do it first.

    • Roctuna December 23rd, 2015 at 11:46

      Absolutely correct. Schools not only let some kids go hungry, while other students eat, they punish adults who try to intervene. We both know this isn’t the first story like this we’ve seen. The students see this outcome too and what do kids do? They model the behavior they see from adults. What a great lesson to be teaching them. So we radicalize our children in school and teach them to be heartless and rigidly dogmatic (zero tolerance rules). Minorities and people of color are lucky if they survive an encounter with police and we worry about muslims radicalizing our young people? We’re doing a fantastic job of it ourselves driven by so-called “christian” and “conservative” policies.

      • William December 23rd, 2015 at 12:45

        Well said.

      • Lyndia December 23rd, 2015 at 20:08

        I don’t know. As an abused child, I still did not want to see another child abused, but that was just me. I am an adult now, doing relatively well considering what I have been through, but I still cannot stand to see a child abused, and I have ALWAYS intervened, when I say OR suspected it.

        • bpollen December 24th, 2015 at 05:42

          Sincerely, thank you for your testimony. Children need and deserve all the advocates they can get.

  6. Robert M. Snyder December 23rd, 2015 at 13:02

    My neighbor once worked in the accounting department of our local school district. The school had tens of thousands of dollars in uncollectible debts because it was school policy to never let a child go hungry. Parents who had the means to pay for lunches knew that the school could not enforce payment because it cost more to collect it than the amount owed. So people worked the system and the debts went unpaid.

    Everyone imagines that this little child’s family is so poor that they cannot afford to pay for her lunches. Maybe so. But in the majority of such cases, the parents are simply not doing what good parents do as the child is heading off to school, such as asking “Do you have your lunch money with you?”.

    Concerning the lunch lady who was fired, keep in mind that employers are usually not permitted to reveal the reasons why an employee was dismissed. Maybe this woman’s heart was in the right place, but how many times has she done this in the past and how many times was she asked to stop? If you think she was right to do what she did, then where do you draw the line? What if the next kid also can’t pay? And the next, and so on. The logical conclusion is that every kid’s lunch should be free. But as the saying goes, there is no free lunch. Somebody has to pay. In my state (PA) the Democratic governor has proposed raising the income tax from 6% to 7.25% and increasing state funding to school districts. Reasonable people can disagree about this proposal, but one thing is clear: there is no free lunch. Everybody pays the sales tax on just about everything they buy. We’re just shifting costs, not eliminating them.

    • Buford2k11 December 23rd, 2015 at 13:13

      you are cold…..

      • fahvel December 23rd, 2015 at 13:19

        oh Buford, you are too kind. RMS is a sad case with nothing but blather from the side of the aisle that lacks feelings or understanding. Mean and cold!!!

        • Buford2k11 December 23rd, 2015 at 13:22

          way too many of these types these days….

        • Robert M. Snyder December 23rd, 2015 at 13:52

          Oh, please. My daughter works for a Catholic hospital that treats everyone, whether or not they can pay. Guess what? They are going bankrupt. It is not compassionate to run an organization into the ground. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Grow up and face the facts. Life requires compromises. I don’t make the rules. Nature makes the rules. In a perfect world, everything we need would fall from heaven. We don’t live in a perfect world. Your refusal to face reality reveals your utter lack of critical thinking skills. Go back to first grade. You missed some important lessons, you big baby.

          • tracey marie December 23rd, 2015 at 14:03

            maybe a few less cathedrals and more money for HC…

            • Robert M. Snyder December 23rd, 2015 at 14:15

              On that we can both agree.

              • tracey marie December 23rd, 2015 at 14:52

                Texas closed 5 schools in poor neighborhoods to build a CO cathedral, they spent over a million alone on an organ…Catholic charity is anything but, besides the government subsidies , no taxes and collections they should reprioritize their actual goals and behave as god and jesus directed them to do.

                • Robert M. Snyder December 23rd, 2015 at 15:33

                  Many years ago, when my son was in Cub Scouts, we went on a field trip to Washington DC. The trip included a guided tour of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. At the start of the tour, the nun started spitting out statistics about the amount of gold used in the construction. At that point, several of us turned and walked out in disgust, and waited outside for the others to finish the tour.

                  • tracey marie December 23rd, 2015 at 15:44

                    Then why all the anghst over a catholic church, whining that they are “bankrupt” because they were doing what they are supposed to be doing? They can sell a few painting or sell a cathedral and feed , cloth and give HC to all the poor in this country for 10 years.

                    • Robert M. Snyder December 23rd, 2015 at 16:39

                      The Catholic church is like any other large organization. The people at the local level don’t call the shots. Everybody seems to think Pope Francis is such a good guy. But he’s got the power, at least we’re led to believe that he has the power. Anyway, at my daughter’s hospital, they served everyone who walked through the door regardless of ability to pay, and they lost money every year. I’m sure they got a lot of donations from Catholics and other benefactors in the community, but it just wasn’t enough. Individual Catholics and other community members can give unlimited sums to a charitable hospital like that. They don’t have to put all their money in the offering plate. So in the end, I would say that the community just didn’t place a high enough priority on that hospital’s mission of serving the poor. I would hasten to add that this is an urban environment where almost everybody who votes, votes Democratic. So much for the theory that Democrats care more about the poor. If that were true, cities run for decades by Democratic administrations (e.g. Chicago, Detroit) would be wonderful places for the poor to live. If Democratic policies worked, these places would have booming economies and lots of well-paying jobs. Instead we get people like Rahm Emanuel covering up police misconduct because he is more concerned about keeping his job than serving the people.

                    • tracey marie December 23rd, 2015 at 17:38

                      Where does it say in the bible the purpose of helping others is to make money? the bible does say to sell your belongings and give to the poor and sick. It is always someone elses fault to xtians, no one takes responsibility and then you rant that all people in urban areas are dems and are moochers. save it for your own kind.

                    • Robert M. Snyder December 23rd, 2015 at 19:16

                      “the bible does say to sell your belongings and give to the poor”
                      …which is totally ridiculous. If you give away everything your have, you will BECOME poor, and then according to the Bible everyone else is supposed to give what they have TO YOU. So possessions are like a hot potato. Everybody’s supposed to give them away, but nobody’s supposed to keep them. Tell you what. Give them to me. I will gladly keep them for you so you don’t have to feel guilty. Don’t ever accuse me of being a Christian. There are so many contradictions in Christianity that I stopped attending church right after high school. Jesus was the world’s most famous socialist. It all sounds great in theory, and it works on a small scale, but it fails miserably on a national scale. Socialism does not work on that scale, because the givers and receivers never have any contact with one another. The receivers have no gratitude and the givers have no joy in giving, because it is coerced. When was the last time you heard a retired person thanking the McDonald’s counter person for helping to fund Social Security through their payroll deductions? No gratitude.

                    • SteveD December 23rd, 2015 at 19:37

                      No one ever thanked that SS recipient for THEIR contributions either, my friend.

                      Social Security is not funded by taxes. The federal govt. by authority has banks mark up (increase) the numbers in the appropriate recipient’s account.

                      Payroll taxes, personal income taxes, quarterly business taxes, the proceeds from bond sales,etc. do not provide the federal government with money that can be ‘used’ to finance future spending. The government finances all of its spending through the direct creation of new (high-powered) money.

                      “there’s nothing to prevent the federal government from creating as much money as it wants and paying it to somebody. The question is, how do you set up a system which assures that the real assets are created which those benefits are employed to purchase.” -Alan Greenspan, former Fed Chairman

                      FDR said, “I guess you’re right on the economics. They are politics all the way through. We put those pay roll contributions there so as to give the contributors a legal, moral, and political right to collect their pensions and their unemployment benefits. With those taxes in there, no damn politician can ever scrap my social security program. Those taxes aren’t a matter of economics, they’re straight politics.” Source:

                    • mea_mark December 23rd, 2015 at 19:54

                      I guess that’s why the government doesn’t just print money to help out SNAP recipients … politics … Americans really don’t care.

                    • Robert M. Snyder December 23rd, 2015 at 21:05

                      Every time the government prints money, prices go up and the buying power of retirees’ savings goes down. Savers get screwed.

                    • Obewon December 23rd, 2015 at 21:18

                      Yeah that’s why 2008’s $147/brl Oil & $5 gas is now $37/brl WTI & Globally because “the government prints money, prices go up”-D’oh!

                    • Robert M. Snyder December 23rd, 2015 at 21:30

                      Yep. Obama should be kissing the ground the oil and gas companies walk on. If they hadn’t invented the technology that has brought about a dramatic expansion in domestic production, the economy would be in the ditch. The energy companies have saved Obama’s butt (and ours). If Obama had gotten his wish, gas would now be selling for $4/gal. I can’t wait for the snobby professor Obama to leave office.

                    • Obewon December 23rd, 2015 at 21:37

                      “domestic production” has zip to do with GLOBAL oil dumped at $37/Brl instead of storing Greedy Oil Polluter garbage in tanks.

                      Nor does fewer employed in U.S. Oil, than in USA’s Renewable Energy today:) GWB’s 12/07 Great Recession record low everything since (R) Hoover’s Great Depression! 1.08 M eight year private jobs total left “Bush On Jobs: The Worst Track Record on Record”-WSJ 1/09/2009. 2nd worst is GHWB Sr’s 2.5 M jobs, four year total.

                    • Obewon December 23rd, 2015 at 21:38

                      Part Deux: Dems are today’s fiscal Conservatives e.g. ‘ACA reduces federal deficits $1.5 T+’-CBO. The Clinton’s $550 B realized consecutive surpluses delivered, of $5.6 T+ Continuing CBO forecast surpluses. POTUS Obama likely to leave office with another Dem Presidential surplus’-Conservative AEI! Net Federal outlays drop below 0% under Obama Admin. “We went from a $5.6 trillion (continuing CBO forecast) surplus that George Bush inherited to over … $11-plus trillion debt when George Bush left office.”-True! (GOP Pollster Gallup 24/24 last in 2012 accuracy. <-BLS March 2014. As of 3/2015, 12 M+ Private Obama Jobs created. Vs Q4-08 $12.7 T GDP shrinking -9% APR vs 2014 U.S. record $17.5 T GDP growing +3% APR = +$5 T GDP!

                    • tracey marie December 23rd, 2015 at 20:54

                      Nowhere does it say everything

                    • Robert M. Snyder December 23rd, 2015 at 21:02

                      Luke 18:22 – “When Jesus heard his answer, he said, “There is still one thing you haven’t done. Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”


                    • Bunya December 24th, 2015 at 00:35

                      The Catholic church?!? Bankrupt??? I don’t think so. Timothy Dolan, the Cardinal of New York lives in a $30 million mansion, complete with butlers and maids.

                      That’s $30 million.

                      He’s the guy who was Archbishop in Wisconsin during the pedophile scandal. He “earned” his status by saving the Vatican a ton of money by screwing the victims out of their settlement.

                    • tracey marie December 24th, 2015 at 07:00

                      It is disgusting, I wonder what their daily costumes cost.

                  • bpollen December 24th, 2015 at 03:49

                    Can you present evidence to support your claim to principles, or are we supposed to take it on “faith?”

                    • Robert M. Snyder December 24th, 2015 at 04:07

                      “Can you present evidence to support your claim to principles, or are we supposed to take it on “faith?””

                      Do you realize how bigoted that statement is? You are making the assumption that just because someone is a conservative, they must not have any principles. That’s the same kind of generalization that Trump makes when he says “No Muslims”. Because some Muslims are bad people, we have to assume they are all bad people, unless we can prove otherwise. Your statement amounts to “guilty until proven innocent”. You are no more enlightened than Donald Trump. You are engaging in the same kind of bigotry. The only difference is that in Liberaland it is okay to hate conservatives. It still amounts to hatred, and it is still based upon broad generalizations about an entire group of people. Look in the mirror.

                    • bpollen December 24th, 2015 at 04:23

                      You do it all the time, yet you are OUTRAGED that you should get a dose of your own medicine? I didn’t say SHITE about conservatives, never even mentioned the freaking word “conservative” in my post. You are trying to put words in my mouth to support your feelings of victimhood.

                      Here’s a little “enlightened” lesson for you: it is NOT bigotry if I think YOU are an assh*le. No matter how much you blow up your own ego, you still are not a group. You come here to troll out drivel, claim that those who don’t agree are childish, naive, spineless. Not logical arguments. Deriding, belittling, pontificating, and demeaning when challenged,but you claim that it’s ME that is bigoted because I think you are a pompous hypocrite with delusions of omniscience. Do the rest of the conservatives know that you, within your own person, embody ALL conservatives? That calling YOU out is bigotry against ALL conservatives? When did you become the living embodiment of Conservatism?

                    • Robert M. Snyder December 24th, 2015 at 04:42

                      “When did you become the living embodiment of Conservatism?”

                      That’s easy. Every time I post a conservative idea on this forum (Liberaland) I am accused of supporting everything any conservative has ever said. It all boils down to bigotry. Nobody should question whether someone supports terrorism just because they happen to be Muslim. And nobody should assume that somebody is (fill in the blanks) just because they happen to agree with conservatives on some issues.

                      I said that I walked out of a cathedral in Washington DC. You implied that you didn’t believe me and demanded that I provide evidence that I have principles.

                      Prove that you are not a terrorist.

                    • bpollen December 24th, 2015 at 05:04

                      “People’s be mean to me, so I am the martyr for all of conservatism!”

                      Incredibly threadbare rhetoric, sport. You troll here on a regular basis to “enlighten” the poor ignorant liberals with the pearls of your alternate reality wisdom, and demean those who challenge your reality. You are claiming martyrdom from ALL, and your reason is because SOME say that you are a stand-in for your fellow travelers.

                      I know conservatives that don’t rankle me the way your lord-of-the-manor shtick does. I also know conservatives who are able to discuss and argue their position without demeaning those who don’t agree. But you lay claim to being THEIR martyr? My, somebody is full of themselves.

                      If you didn’t want pushback, what the hell is your point in trolling the site?

                    • Robert M. Snyder December 24th, 2015 at 05:16

                      Define “trolling”. I thought the idea of Liberaland was to put forth the liberal perspective in the arena of ideas and to invite criticism. I didn’t realize that Liberaland was a “safe space”.

                    • bpollen December 24th, 2015 at 05:31

                      Did I SAY safe space? There you go, putting words in my mouth so you can dispute THOSE instead of what I actually said.

                      So, criticism consists of “you’re naive” and “you’re spineless” and implying that nobody but you has any concept of reality. Again, let me “enlighten” you: those are examples of insults masquerading as criticism of what others bring to your “arena of ideas.” But when you are called out for those insults, you begin the keening and wailing about the horrible injustice you suffered.

                      I brought up your principles because they seem to be “I’m right and there is something wrong with you if you don’t slavishly agree.” Look UP the word troll. I don’t use it lightly. Know-it-alls who snivel and insult those who don’t bow before the lordly insight they bestow upon us poor liberals certainly fill the bill.

                      Your claim to invite criticism of your ideas is really hard to fathom in light of how you react to it.

                • Lyndia December 23rd, 2015 at 19:58

                  The don’t follow the directions of God. They follow their own DIRECTIONS.

          • Lucy December 23rd, 2015 at 14:04

            Nature does not make the rules regarding school lunches. People do. In case you didn’t know.

            • Robert M. Snyder December 23rd, 2015 at 14:19

              Nature makes the rules regarding resources. Food doesn’t prepare itself. Real people have to do real work. The people who grow the food, harvest it, transport it, and prepare it – they all need to earn a living. So when your kid goes to lunch, they should expect to pay something. And if they can’t, there is plenty of assistance. In case you didn’t know it, many kids qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. The fact that this kid was required to pay tells me that she did NOT qualify. Her parents have the means. She just forgot her lunch money, or they are failing to provide it to her because they want to game the system. Believe me, there are a lot of people who have the means but who think they can game the system. That is greed, and we shouldn’t put up with it. The school should not have to provide free lunches for kids who can afford to pay. If this kid did not qualify for free lunch, then her family can afford to pay. Case closed.

          • Lyndia December 23rd, 2015 at 19:56

            You are extremely rude and cold. Your critical thinking skills are null and void, yet you have the audacity to talk about others and attempt to belittle them. I could say more but I am going to leave it at that.

            • Robert M. Snyder December 23rd, 2015 at 20:43

              “You are extremely rude and cold”
              This isn’t kindergarten. Grow a spine.

              • bpollen December 24th, 2015 at 04:47

                Well thought out response. Calling you out for your tone means that she’s an invertebrate? You ARE rude. You ARE cold. And somehow somebody without a soul feels that anybody with a soul is spineless? You just come here to tell the silly “libruls” what’s what. To give the boon of your facile thinking, your obvious support for doing nothing since life is tough, your holier-and-smarter-than-thou attitude, your micron-deep analysis of the world.

                If, as you keep saying, you don’t like the people here, don’t like how they respond to you or refute you or dispute you, why the hell are you here? Since nobody here can swallow, let alone stomach, your pronouncements and your worldview, continuing to do so is just masturbation of the ego. Though there is some bilious poetry to a jerk-off visiting to jerk off.

          • Bunya December 24th, 2015 at 00:39

            Good. Let the Catholic hospital go broke. Maybe it will be taken over by a secular organization, making it a safe place for women to get treatment.

            • Robert M. Snyder December 24th, 2015 at 03:04

              Be careful what you wish for. You might just get it. Do you really think the world would be a better place without Catholic hospitals?

              “The Roman Catholic Church is the largest non-government provider of health care services in the world.It has around 18,000 clinics, 16,000 homes for the elderly and those with special needs, and 5,500 hospitals, with 65 percent of them located in developing countries. In 2010, the Church’s Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers said that the Church manages 26% of the world’s health care facilities.”


              • Bunya December 28th, 2015 at 12:14

                I have no problem with everything else they do (with government subsidies and with the help of their parishioners, so they don’t shell out a dime, which is why the Vatican is the richest tax-exempt corporation in the world), but they should stay out of the life saving business if they’re willing to let a mother die along with a 2 month old fetus.

          • whatthe46 December 24th, 2015 at 03:28

            you have issues. address them now.

    • tracey marie December 23rd, 2015 at 14:02

      let the kids go hungry, pathetic.

  7. labman57 December 23rd, 2015 at 13:49

    There’s always the “Gingrich” plan:
    Make the kid clean all of the toilets on campus and then give the imp a slice of stale bread.

  8. BillPasadena December 23rd, 2015 at 14:06

    How sad that government schools collect so much tax money for feeding kids and then force kids to go hungry.

    Isn’t it time for the children to get a union to lobby for better schools?

  9. tracey marie December 23rd, 2015 at 14:10

    Idaho cut education funding by 2.4%, they receive 2.8 billion in federal aid, state fund, 4,5 billion. we carry over half the idaho functions and they are complaining about $1.70. Mormons and other christians…sigh.

  10. FatRat December 23rd, 2015 at 15:51
    I’m glad she didn’t pull a Jesus or she would’ve been charged with a MAJOR felony. lol
    Matthew 14:13-21

    16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

    17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.

    18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.

    Even the Gorton’s Fisherman wouldn’t be allowed to give a hungry child a single solitary fishstick.

  11. LoisB December 23rd, 2015 at 16:52

    They should have just let the lady pay the $1.70 – no need to fire her.

    • rg9rts December 24th, 2015 at 10:15

      They should stop being so gopee…letting a child go hungry is a crime in the richest nation the planet has ever known SHAME ON THEM

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