Words by Terrell Manasco | Images by Blakeney Clouse
Early every weekday morning, Bobbie Brewer arrives at Memorial Park School and begins her day. As the first bell rings and students settle into class, the enticing aroma of fresh pancakes, biscuits, and sausage wafts from the lunchroom as Bobbie and her team prepare breakfast.
For the last two decades, Bobbie has been the Child Nutrition Program (CNP) Manager at the school. When asked what brought her here, Bobbie simply replies, “Empty nest syndrome… and the love of cooking.”
A graduate of Parrish High School, Bobbie had been a substitute teacher with Jasper City Schools when a friend recruited her in 1999. “One of the other (CNP) managers pulled me in, and the kids kept me here,” Bobbie says.
After breakfast, Bobbie and her crew of three “lunchroom ladies” begin making lunch. On a good day, she estimates they will feed about 300 children.
Each weekday typically has its own designated breakfast meal. Monday is usually pancakes, Tuesday is chicken and a biscuit, Wednesday is French toast, Thursday is biscuits and gravy/ sausage, and Friday is cereal. What’s the most popular breakfast? “French toast,” Bobbie says.
Lunch favorites include hot dogs and crispitos, a Mexican dish that consists of a filling wrapped in tortilla or roll sheets and fried. The most popular meal is chicken nuggets, served on Wednesdays. “They’re not real big on vegetables,” Bobbie says.
Cooking is only part of the job. There’s also paperwork and tracking inventory. “I have to keep up with everything that is used that day, so we know what to order,” Bobbie says. “We have to keep a record for the government.”
A burst of laughter outside Bobbie’s office prompts a warm smile. It’s obvious these four ladies all enjoy working together. “I love my ladies,” Bobbie says. “We have a good time back here, as you can see. We get along very well.”
This is Bobbie’s last year in her job. Come June 1, she will retire after 20 years. She and her husband, who is also retiring, plan to spend time with their three granddaughters. What will she miss the most about working here? “My ladies and my kids,” she says. 78