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Teen Allegedly Fired for Giving Veteran 2 Tacos, Coffee

A 19-year-old claims he was fired by a Jack in the Box franchise in Bakersfield, CA for “mishandling funds” after he gave away nearly $2 worth of food — a coffee and two tacos — instead of throwing it away.

KGET, an NBC affiliate, notes that a spokesperson for the restaurant chain denied the allegation, indicating that “he was not fired for simply giving the veteran food.”

NBC Los Angeles reports:

A Bakersfield teenager was fired from his fast-food job after he gave away food to a military veteran.

Alex Mesta, 19, said he gave two tacos and a coffee, which cost $1.28 and 85 cents respectively, to a veteran last Monday [August 1] because he feels connected to military service. Mesta’s brother is a Marine.

According to Mesta, a customer purchased tacos in the Jack in the Box drive-thru but decided not to pick them up. Instead of throwing away the food, Mesta decided to give the tacos to a veteran who walked in the fast-food restaurant shortly after. The veteran had a coffee cup he had purchased on an earlier date, which Mesta refilled for free.

Mesta was fired the same day. He says he has no plans to appeal the decision to Jack in the Box management and is currently searching for a job.

A Facebook post about the incident went viral.

“Everyone has been really proud of me, but there’s been a little bit of talk about me using the veteran as scapegoat,” NBC quotes Mesta as saying.

“He’s a vet and my family has veterans and I have much respect for them. I mean they serve our country and it’s the least I can do. There’s so much more we can do but that’s just a little bit,” also said the teenager, according to KGET.

In a statement, the Jack in the Box spokesperson Brian Luscomb said:

We too are grateful to our veterans and to the men and women currently serving in the armed forces. Regarding this incident, while it would not be appropriate to provide complete details on an internal disciplinary issue, our actions in this case were not based on just one incident and had nothing to do with the guest’s military experience.

Mesta reportedly maintains he was fired for only giving the veteran food without charging him. He claims the reason he was given for being dismissed is “mishandling funds.”

ABC affiliate KERO reports:

The employee, Alex Mesta, says that he would give the man free coffee from time to time because he was a veteran and a regular, and because ‘it’s not even a dollar for our coffee.’

Mesta says he would see the man a few times a week because they both worked the graveyard shift. Sometime within the last two weeks, Mesta decided to give the veteran two tacos that were leftover and were reportedly going to be thrown away…Mesta says that security tapes showed him giving the man the products, leading to his termination.

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