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Getting ‘em fed at BMS

Lydia Grimes | The Brewton Standard Diane Byrd, Leola Shufford and Betty Nicholson work inside the BMS lunchroom.

Lydia Grimes | The Brewton Standard
Diane Byrd, Leola Shufford and Betty Nicholson work inside the BMS lunchroom.

Lunchroom crew serves countless meals

If the students at Brewton Middle School go hungry, it surely won’t be the fault of the ladies who work the lunchroom.

Between 200 and 300 meals are prepared every day for students and teachers at the school and it is all done by three ladies. They arrive around 7 a.m. and work until 2:30 p.m. On rare occasions, they may have a little left over at the end of the school day, and sometimes, on even rarer occasions, they might run a little short. According to them, the jobs have changed somewhat over the years.

“We used to cook everything from scratch, but these days we get a lot that is already partially prepared,” said Diane Byrd. “We also have to be careful about the menus in case someone has allergies or some type of special diet.”

Manager Diane Byrd has been part of the team since 1999, while both Leola Shufford and Betty Nicholson have been there for the past 20 years.

“I love my job,” Shufford said. “I have been here so long that I know all of the children and I love them all. We get to know if they have special diets and what to fix for them. We have to have something red, green and something orange on the plate. They also get a piece of fruit or cookie. I thank God every day for all my blessings and my job is just one of those blessings.”

Shufford is just happy to be able to do something that she loves and make a living at the same time.

“I have always loved to cook and clean so I am right at home here,” she said. “I did some cooking at Southern Normal High School during my senior year. I really liked it and after I graduated in 1981, that is the kind of work I did.”

Shufford was raised in Monroe County, but moved to this area and attended Brewton City schools until she entered the eighth grade at Southern Normal.

“I loved going to school out there,” she said. “I remember lots of the students and we had some very good teachers. Mrs. Florence Rowser was one of my favorites.”

She is married to Council Shufford. They have three children, and nine grandchildren, all who live close by.

Betty Nicholson is married to Nathaniel Nicholson and they have two children. Diane Byrd is married to Tom Byrd and they have two children.

Since the move from the old middle school into the new building on Old Castleberry Road, the lunch room is large and the preparation area is spread out to where everyone has room to work.

“This is so much easier and nicer up here in the new building,” said Shufford. “I was hired to work back at the old school by Principal Vernon Baggett and everybody has always been so nice to me. Even when I broke my foot and had to be out of work for a while, they were nice to me and gave me time to heal. I also had to have some knee surgery done, but then I was able to come back to work just as soon as I was able.

“I don’t think too much about retirement,” she added. “I enjoy what I am doing and all the students are just a big family to us.”