Lunch lady allegedly fired for giving needy student free lunches gets her job back
Dianne Brame is a school lunch lady with a heart.
Allegedly fired recently for an act of generosity, Brames believes the company contracted to provide lunches at the Hudson Elementary School in St. Louis disapproved of her kindness towards a child.
Brame admits that she gave free lunches for two months to a fourth grade student who had fallen off the roster of the school’s free lunch program. She had been working as a lunch lady at Hudson Elementary School for three years when she noticed that a student who had been receiving full lunches was no longer eligible for a normal meal. Brame knew that the child’s mother did not speak English, and may not have understood how to keep her child enrolled.
The student was still entitled to a reduced lunch of a cheese sandwich and milk, but Brame was concerned that this reduction would lead the student to be mocked by his peers. Thus, she continued to give the child a full meal, while acknowledging to herself her violation of her employer’s, the Chartwells company, policies.
“Actually, it was looked upon as stealing because that food wasn’t mine to give to that child,” Brames told area news outlet KSDK. “I don’t necessarily look at it as wrong. I violated my contract with them. I knew the rules and regulations. But I don’t think it was wrong to feed that kid.”
Brame believes that a co-worker alerted Chartwells to her actions. After she was fired, the school district countered press inquiries with its belief that “Brame was not fired and [was] offered a position at another school,” KSDK reported.
The older woman responded to this allegation that she does not own a car, walks to work, and would not have been able to take another position.
Brame’s act of compassion did not go unpunished — for long. Television station KSDK now reports that Brame has been reinstated, perhaps in response to the media speculation surrounding her firing that led to pubic outrage.
She returned to work this past Monday.
Chartwells has released a statement to the press regarding this resolution that affirms the company’s commitment to feeding all children who come in contact with its programs. “The welfare of the students, staff and employees at all of the school districts we serve is Chartwells primary concern,” the statement says, “and we are pleased that this misunderstanding has been resolved for the benefit of students and our employees.”
Follow Alexis Garrett Stodghill on Twitter at @lexisb.