WEBSTER GROVES, Mo. (KSDK) - A St. Louis County lunch lady says giving free food to a needy child led to her being fired.
Dianne Brame had worked in the cafeteria at Hudson Elementary in the Webster Groves School District for the last three years.
This fall she noticed the family of a fourth grader on the free lunch program hadn't renewed his eligibility and the child wasn't coming to school with money to pay for lunch. Brame says the boy's mother doesn't speak English and probably couldn't understand the paperwork.
Brame tells NewsChannel 5 the child was supposed to be reduced to a cheese sandwich and a carton of milk for lunch. But she worried he'd be made fun of by the other students.
So instead, Brame gave him regular meals, for free, for nearly two months. A co-worker caught on and alerted Chartwells, the food service provider for the Webster Groves School District.
Brame says the company fired her on Tuesday.
"Actually, it was looked upon as stealing because that food wasn't mine to give to that child," said Brame. "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."
Chartwells' Regional Vice President, Bruce Norman, couldn't comment on Brame's case except to say there is an investigation to make sure she was treated fairly.
Brame says she accepts responsibility for her actions and despite losing her job, she'd do it all over again if given the chance.
The Webster Groves School District released the following statement Friday:
"Dear Parents and Guardians:
You may have heard television reports last night stating that Chartwells, the district's food service company, fired one of its cafeteria workers at Hudson School for giving free food to a student. The reports were inaccurate. Our understanding is that Chartwells decided to move the individual from Hudson to another location and the employee refused the offer. The Webster Groves School District was not informed about the decision and had no part in making it. We realize that the few details provided about what happened may not clarify the situation to everyone's satisfaction. However, there is more to the story. This is a personnel matter between Chartwells and the employee and confidentiality requirements prevent public discussion of specific issues.
Please know that no child in the Webster Groves School District would go hungry for lack of payment. We take care of our families when informed of such situations. We are meeting with Chartwells to discuss their ongoing investigation and will share further developments as they occur. Please know that we care about our children and staff.