The saga of the Mascoma Valley lunch lady continues. (See the latest chapter elsewhere in Tuesday’s Union Leader.) Cafe Services, the outside food company that runs the school district lunch program, has now come forward to explain why it fired Bonnie Kimball. It might have saved itself from some of the egg on its face had it done so sooner.
As it is, the issues churning around for-profit food services in schools can be complicated. One wonders whether the old way of doing things might be worth a second look. (See related editorial.)
Apparently, a student unable to pay for a meal is still to be given one, but he or she isn’t to include or substitute a la carte items.
In March, with a food company representative observing, lunch lady Kimball let the student in question have the a la carte items. In dispute is whether he was charged. This had apparently happened before.
The company could have quietly reprimanded Kimball for not following the rules. Instead, it decided to fire her and then declined to explain itself.
The Mascoma Valley Regional School District hasn’t covered itself with glory, either. It wasn’t until Kimball told and re-told her story last week that Superintendent Amanda Isabelle announced that she had directed the company to rehire Kimball.
Just a guess, but since Cafe Services has been awarded a new contract, Isabelle may have decided she needed to improve the school’s optics.
Lunch lady Kimball, in declining to return, said, “They all just want me to get the press off their backs.”
Perhaps. But Kimball doesn’t seem to be coming of this without a few food stains, either. Maybe the old way was better.