School cafeteria worker fired for feeding needy student

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By Rebecca Roberts, Webster Groves, MO (KTVI) — A St. Louis County cafeteria worker is out of a job after giving away free meals to a child in need.

For two years, Dianne Brame worked as a cafeteria manager at Hudson Elementary in Webster Groves, keeping kids’ bellies full for their all-important task of learning.

The lunch lady loved her job: “I knew kids by their names, I knew their likes and dislikes, so it was just fun.”

But recently, she came across a fourth grader who consistently came without money. She says he used to be on the free lunch program, but language barriers got in the way of reapplying:

“I sent them paperwork so that they could get back in contact with me, but it didn’t happen,” she says.

For days, Brame snuck the boy lunches. She explains, “I let his account get over $45 which I’m only supposed to let it get over $10, and I started letting him come through my lunch line without putting his number in, and they look at that as stealing. I thought it was just taking care of a kid.”

She was trying to protect him from the bullying: a cruel side dish to the default cheese sandwich given to kids without lunch money. “The kids would ridicule and tell them, ah you don’t have any money, that’s why you have to eat cheese sandwiches every day,” Brame says.

On Tuesday, word got around to Brame’s supervisor, who put her between a rock and a hard place: either leave, or move to another school in a demoted position. The 60 year-old former manager felt she didn’t have a choice.

“My husband died in February, I lost my home, car got repo’ed,” she explains, “Hudson is in walking distance from me, so I took the firing. Fire me.”

Gary Woodruff, whose daughter attends Hudson Elementary, finds the punishment to be harsh: “It just seems a little excessive that they would do that to a lunch lady, I mean it’s a little bit ridiculous, especially nowadays with the economy and what not.”

Now, jobless and with the holidays right around the corner, Brame is on a tighter budget—giving cookies instead of pricier presents.

According to Brame’s employer, she does have the opportunity to appeal the decision. But Brame says she doesn’t want to bother, especially because she knows she violated protocol.

Looking back, she says she wouldn’t change a thing: “I don’t think any kid should be hungry. I don’t. And it’s my belief that some of these kids who go to school and get meals, that may be the only meal they eat that day.”


  • danielle

    Can’t believe this story. I had a lunchlady like that. Why be punished for that? And to that degree! Nonsense. For feeding our future! Need more kindhearted people like this lunchlady. Bless you!

  • Christina

    I think that this punishment is outrageous! Yes, she broke protocol, but dock her pay a little each week if truly needed. Besides, students don’t get much in their cafeteria lunches so it’s not worth what is charged. As for the lunch lady, I’m so glad to know that there are still people in the world that care about others. Bless this lunch lady!

  • Allen

    In School as a student we recieved extra credit for volunteering in the lunch kitchen, and I cant tell you how many days at the end of the day they threw food away as it couldnt be served again. I feel that she didnt do anything wrong and is unjustly fired. I guess the school would rather toss the food then give it to a student in need.

    • Deborah

      I see ppl talking about dock her pay, but don't fire her…NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO…they need to change protocol or policy…whatever you want to call this! Shame on those who would turn away a hungry person, even worse a hungry child! America is spending billions to feed other countries, yet we can't feed our own?????? This just doesn't make sense!!!! Fire the ppl who created this rule, fire the one who fired this caring woman!!! No one knows what is going on at home…no one knows that maybe the parent earns just a little too much to qualify for free lunch and not enough to add that extra lunch each day into the already tight budget….I understand it, because I've been there….God Bless this woman!!!! Great hearts are hard to find these days…someone will see this and hire this woman because we need more ppl like her!

  • Victoria

    With as much money as tax payers pay I dont know why Lunches aint free to every child in school… This is just sad and uncalled for…

  • deb

    Doesn’t this school relise that this act of kindness that this woman showed the child could very well have a profoud effect on their life. Brovo to this wonderful lady, may you continue to be blessed.

  • Margene

    we need more people like her in this crazy messed up world today. Hopefully one of those people that fired her never needs some compassion and kindness in their lives…karma will come their way one day. Hopefully this lovely women has a truely blessed Christmas.

  • Virginia

    Why wasn't the school administrators on top of this situation. It should have never gone this far. A child that fell through the cracks of bureaucratic paperwork and this woman was trying to fill the crack. Shame on them. Where does our school taxes, all those grants, that schools receive go.

  • LORI

    they need to fire who ever fired her some people have there priorities so messed up. How are you gonna let a little kid go without eating all day long. and this country wonders why there is so much violence in the world

  • Stephanie

    Everyone should send this wonderful lady a Christmas present. I would have done the same, every child everywhere deserves to be fed. God Bless this kind lady and I pray for more people to be like her.

  • TJW

    Well I agree this firing is a bit much over 45 dollars, why doesn't anyone look at why the parents of this kid couldn't pack him a lunch or give him a little money to buy something at lunch time? I mean if I had kids and we were hungry I would starve to make sure they got something

  • Tabitha

    I think this school is beyond ridiculous. And I would hope her fellow workers/community would take a stand for this amazing woman. Now that she s gone, what will happen to this child? Or any other in this position?

  • Tara

    I wish I could give to this woman like she gave to that child. I would make sure she lived a comfortable life!!! My son is autistic and I understand not always having money to cover our needs. It’s hard on everyone. To have someone bend the rules and look out for that child is a gift. Schools are getting crazy with their high costs for lunch and all the food they waste at the end. Then to only give the poor children cheese sandwiches… Sinful

  • Kelley

    Again the schools put money over the child. Unbelievable. If I had a job to offer this lady, I'd do it in a heart beat. We need more like her. How come no one else picked up on this poor kids situation? Shame On you Hudson Elementary School!

  • Michelle

    May God Bless you for all you have done. It sickens me to think you would loose your job over helping a child. May good things come your way and for those so heartless to fire a woman already having a hard time Karma will come around some day and you will be first in line.

  • ppatches81

    discrimination complaints can be sent to the Secretary of Agriculture in DC.. I feel a grassroots movement coming out of this thing

  • laura heilig

    Good for her. I wish more people would care about others like she does. I hope she can rest easy and with a clear conscience because she is a hero in my eyes. God bless her!

  • Donna w

    OMG she feeds a hungry child and gets fired. A the money that tax payers pour into schools, and they can give a needy child a warm meal? A cheese sandwich is nice but when others are eating a warm meal and you are hungry, it stinks! Something has to change. The school should have reached out to the family. If they don’t speak English, I’m sure someone could have spoke to them and gotten the proper papers filled out so he could eat. This really hits a nerve with me, sorry

  • ron

    They should be ashamed. We should have more people taking care and looking after our children. That just makes me sick!

  • TXlunchlady

    I’m a lunchlady and I would have contacted the principal because they can fill out a application for a child if it deems nessecary. But I too have been know to pay for the lunch my self. I’ve given some cheese sandwiches in my days but if I see its a everyday thing I get ahold of someone who can help the family..
    God Bless the Lunch Ladies across America people don’t understand hard this job is with all the Goverment rules…
    But I wouldn’t change being a lunch lady because it is one of the BEST jobs you can have!

  • tsteele35

    UPDATE: This is on the schools website:Chartwells, the food service company that provides school lunches and breakfasts in the Webster Groves School District, met with Diane Brame of Hudson School, who had been the subject of several media reports Thursday and Friday. After their conference, they reached a resolution: Ms. Brame will be at work at Hudson School Monday morning. The Webster Groves School District will continue to meet with Chartwells regarding procedures related to school lunches. referencefrom :

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