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Lunch lady canned over giving free lunch offered her job back

POCATELLO, Idaho -- A southeastern Idaho cafeteria worker says she was fired for giving a student a free meal, but the school district offered her the job back after a national outcry.

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 costing $1.70. The letter cited theft as the reason for her dismissal.

Bowden told a local television station in Eastern Idaho that she gave a hot meal to a 12-year-old girl with no lunch money on December 15, CBS affiliate KMVT reports. "I handed her the food and said, 'Here, we'll take care of it in a minute,"' Bowden told the station. She said she then offered to pay the $1.70 cost of the lunch.

The district said in a statement Wednesday night that it doesn't fire workers for single events but offered Bowden her job back in the spirit of the holidays. It's not clear if she will return.

The district, in a statement to address the public outcry on social media, said it works with various programs to help children who are hungry, need medical care or who are homeless.

The district also noted that every single meal is accounted for and recorded on a list which is then checked twice by an auditor.

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