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Lunch Bunch gives service with a smile
Betty Brannen has been part of Stilson Elementarys lunchroom staff since 91
Stilson Photo
Betty Brannen, center, stands with her "Lunch Bunch" lunchroom crew at Stilson Elementary. - photo by ROGER ALLEN/special
    Early every school morning, a group of dedicated ladies gather in the Stilson Elementary kitchen to prepare to feed their charges under the direction of lunchroom manager Betty Brannen.
    Brannen was born in Fayetteville, N.C., and grew up both there and in Jacksonville, Fla. She moved to Brooklet in 1979 after she got married. Once her children — Camille Fanning, Amanda Sparks and William Donald Brannen — were ready to leave the nest, Brannen went to work.
    Her first, and only, job has been with the Bulloch County Public School System. She started off as a cook at Statesboro High School (1988-90), then got a job as a cook at Nevils (1990-1991), at which time she came to Stilson to assume her duties running the kitchen, for two years at the 'old' school, and then at the 'new' school.
    She is quick to point out that nothing would get done without the rest of the Stilson Elementary “Lunch Bunch,” as they are known. Fellow “Lunch Bunch'er” Molly Rebecca Spivey has worked alongside Brannen for 18 years. Spivey said, “Bulloch County (especially Stilson) is so peaceful and laid back.”
    Donna Fields has been working in the school kitchen for about eight years.
Fields stated that, “There's nothing like a hot meal to make even the dourest child smile.”
Arlene Hendley has worked at Stilson now for two years, coming over from the Langston Chapel Elementary and Middle School kitchen crew. Hendley is originally from Stilson, and went to the 'old' Stilson Elementary.
     Pat Thompson has been at Stilson for three years, and agreed, “We have a really good crew and really good kids here at SE.”
    Brannen estimates they feed some 200 kids for breakfast and at least 325 for lunch. Many of the faculty and staff eat with their classes, and for good reason.
Coach Ware stated that "In addition to feeding me well, I enjoy the rapport that I have with them, especially 'Miss Betty.'"
    These feelings of respect and appreciation go both ways. When Hendley was in a car wreck in August 2008 and was laid up in the hospital for a week, she remembered how “All of the faculty and staff came by regularly to visit me. They made me feel like part of all of their families.”
    Kindergarten Teacher Meagan Lee summed it up: “At Stilson, everybody gets service with a smile!”
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