Cafeteria Worker Rehired After Losing Job for Giving Food to Low-Income StudentS

A woman who was fired from her job in an elementary school cafeteria earlier this week after giving free lunch to a needy student has been given her job back, according to Missouri's Channel 5 News. Dianne Brame had been employed as the cafeteria manager for Hudson Elementary for the last three years; she began giving free lunches to the student, a fourth-grader, after she realized his name was listed under the free lunch program but his eligible status had expired.

"I know each child by name," she said in an interview shortly after losing her job. "His mom speaks no English. I tried communicating with them through the mail; he has to translate for his mother." Students whose families cannot afford lunch are allowed three "regular" meals before being switched to the free lunch plan, which consists of a cheese sandwich and a carton of milk.

Brame said that students receiving the sandwiches are easily identified and often teased for not having enough money, which is why she provided the student with the standard lunch for about two months.

One of her co-workers reported her to Chartwells, the food service vendor for the school, and Brame was given the option of being "demoted and transferred" or released from her employment. According to MSN, she "could not work at another school because she walks to work" since losing her car after the death of her husband last spring.

Within a few hours of Brame's interview, she was contacted by higher-ups at Chartwells offering to reinstate her in her former position. The company briefed her on official policy should a similar situation arise in future. Brame has also been asked to enroll in conflict-resolution classes with the supervisor who terminated her.

"Before, you know, I was just a number," Brame says, "but now they know me and I feel close, and if any issues come up I won't feel uncomfortable to have to call them."

As for the child, Brame says the fourth grader will be getting on the free lunch plan now.