Major Update!

Ding! Fired Cafeteria Worker Rehired! And You Helped!


Original Story:

Three days ago Diane Brame was fired for allowing a penniless 4th grader to eat lunch.

A St. Louis County Missouri cafeteria worker is out of a job after giving away free meals to a child in need...

...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 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."

The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?

If you were Brame's supervisor and discovered what was happening, what would be your reaction? Try to get the kid back onto the free lunch program? Take up a collection to pay back the school? Or at worst ask Ms. Brame to reimburse the money and otherwise look the other way?


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.
Mrs. Brame chose to leave.
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.
Sort of like jailing people who can't pay their debts, like throwing a man in prison for stealing bread to feed his kids, or, dare I say, like Ebenezer Scrooge pontificating about workhouses.

I think she should get her job back with a raise. What about you?

Update: Here's the best lead I've found for a contact at Chartwell, the company that is contracted to do food service at the school, and the company that Diane Brame used to work for, before she was fired.

Chartwells School Dining
Karen Dittrich, Director

Seems like Chartwells is owned by Compass.

Send her an email demanding that Diane Brame get her job back!  (I've got a call into that number, asking for a comment about what the company is going to do about this situation).


Here's a picture of Bruce Norman, Chartwell's Regional Vice President.  And there is this contact information at the bottom:

Chartwells-Thompson Dining Services at St. Louis Public Schools  
5020 Lexington Ave • St. Louis, MO  63115 •  (314) 381-4155 phone

9:00 AM PT: Video:


9:32 AM PT: Another video:


10:05 AM PT: From the comments. A letter to Chartwells:

What the heck is wrong with your company? I just read that you have fired a cafeteria employee for feeding a hungry child without charging for the food.

As a retired teacher, I understand USDA rules must be followed but I do not understand your actions. Is problem solving nonexistent in your company? Could this not be worked out in a more appropriate manner? I hope you loose your contract with this school district.

10:33 AM PT: Another letter from the comments:

our company's firing of Dianne Brame for allowing a poor child to eat lunch is a wonderful demonstration of everything that has gone wrong with the United States in recent years. Perhaps she broke some rules, but couldn't you have done something less drastic, such as let her pay the money to cover the lunches? And maybe helped the poor child's family with the paperwork so he could get the food in the future according to the rules?

But noooooo! Everything has to be draconian measures nowadays, especially when it comes to somebody doing something to help the poor. Why have corporations become so heartless? Management has become so impersonable and cold. Stick to the rules, crack the whip, don't take anything about an individual's situation into account.

11:18 AM PT: Another letter. Keep 'em coming.

I read about your firing of cafeteria worker Diane Brame for the infraction of feeding a hungry child, and while I understand that what she did was against policy, I must question whether demoting and moving or firing her were the only possible options. What she did was not to her own benefit and done out of compassion - is this the only solution anybody at your company could possibly come up with?

I have a  few more questions:

Is it true that she was not given a chance to repay the full cost of those meals and be allowed to keep her job?

Did the person who offered Ms. Brame the option of a transfer and demotion as the only way of remaining employed know that she was a widow without a car and therefore could not possibly take that option? If the person who gave her that option did not, when they found out was any other option offered?

Have you or anyone with your company checked to see if the hungry child has had ay help with the paperwork so that they could afford to buy meals in the future?

I look forward to the answer to these questions.

1:32 PM PT: One more:

Ms Dittrich,

I understand that Chartwells School Dining just fired an employee, Diane Brame, for the unforgivable offense of not just standing by and watching a poor, hungry student starve.  Two weeks before Christmas.

I would think that your company would be proud to have such a person representing it, and would do something to reward her ... while perhaps coming up with some less draconian way of making the situation right.  Like maybe just having her reimburse the small amount of money, while praising her compassion to high heaven.

But I guess I would be wrong in thinking that.  You are just another typical example of heartless Corporate America.  

Money and rules come before all else.

Compassion and human feeling are fireable offenses.

1:38 PM PT: A statement from the School Superintendent:

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.

Sarah Riss


What she is not mentioning is that, at least according to Diane Blaine, the move to another school was a demotion.  And would have involved hardship on Blaine's part to get to that location.  And was absurd on its face.  What point would there be in transferring her?

1:45 PM PT: Letters to the company and the school:

...to the company...

Subject: Shame

Fix this.
...to the school...
Subject: (moral) Compass

Hiding behind "protocols", "contracts", "privacy" is shameful behavior.

This is your school. Fix it, or fire the company that acts so wrecklessly and bring the situation back under your own control.

Originally posted to jpmassar on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 08:39 AM PST.

Also republished by Invisible People and ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement.


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