Monday, January 25, 2016

Love was the secret ingredient

Theo Stillions went to heaven this month, and the angels are glad because she brought her secret recipe for angel food cake (which calls for 24 egg whites) with her. But the 101 years she spent on earth are fondly remembered by former students at rural Sanders Elementary School near Bloomington, Indiana, where she was lunch lady for 28 years.

Baptized into the Pentecostal Church at 7, she spent many adult years teaching Sunday School and helping the 4-H Club. She travelled across the country with her husband and daughters, flying to Alaska at age 89. But the boys and girls at Sanderson Elementary knew her as "Nana."

Not your typical lunch lady, Nana personally cooked healthy lunches featuring kale, collards, spinach, broccoli, peas, noodles, dumplings, fried chicken and cornbread, and served them on real plates. "You could only get more if you finished the healthy stuff," remembers one student, who often ate his classmates' broccoli so they could have dessert. "No one wanted to miss her peach cobbler," he said.

Nana learned the eating habits of each student and kept records to help balance their diets. She sent home food for the weekends and if she felt a child needed more, they received milk and cookies or orange juice during recess.

In her kitchen, it was an honor to help clean up after lunch. Only students with high grades who finished their homework could join her in the basement kitchen to wash dishes. Her motto was, "Make yourself at home, or go home."

"We felt care and love in the preparation (of her food)," said one former student. "It mattered." And it didn't end when she retired as lunch lady. Until she was 99, she used her secret recipe to make angel food cake for each member of her family on their birthday. Thank you, Nana.

No comments:

Post a Comment