Barbara Robinson: Proud to be known as ‘The Lunch Lady’

Published 9:12 pm Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Former DeQuincy Police Chief Michael Suchaneck said one of the best cooks he knows is Barbara Robinson.

“She prepares all the summer youth meals here in DeQuincy,” Suchaneck said.

He’s eaten her lunches plenty of times when the summer feeding program included not only food but also educational and safety programs from area emergency responders and others. The kids call her
the “The Lunch Lady,” and it’s a title she’s earned and happy to have after working in the school system feeding children for 35 years.

She’s persuaded children to try foods they didn’t like by telling them it would make them great athletes when they are older and she’s even outright lied when kids in the cafeteria line and her own children have asked, “Does that have onions in it?”

“They eat it. They love it. Use that food processor and they’ll never see the onions,” she said with a chuckle.

She said her job in the cafeteria was an answer to a prayer.

“I love to cook, I love to make people happy, love to see children eat and have a good time,” she said. “I have four children and God has given me everything I laid out before him, an education for my
children, a home. What I asked for, He answered beginning with that job.”

Godparents Walter and Mabel Cole, who had no children, raised Robinson. She was there from the age of 2 months and she learned to cook at the age of 13 when her mother (Mabel) would instruct her to “watch and stir.”

“My dad had a big garden and I learned how to can vegetables and fruits at an early age,” she said.

She was promoted to a managerial position, and she retired from working for the Calcasieu Parish School Board in 2015. She worked as a cook for the Boy Scout camps and weekend retreats at Camp Edgewood. She makes peach cobbler for a DeRidder Church every month. She continues to be involved in the summer feeding program, keeps her grandchildren while her children work and feeds them almost every evening.

No stranger to the need to prepare “that long gravy,” a term old-timers use for stretching what’s available, she gives out the USDA commodity boxes every third Friday in DeQuincy and knows how much these basic foods are needed.

“One older lady in my neighborhood gets a very small check every month and only $16 in food stamps,” Robinson said. “I found out she was taking her medicine every other week instead of every day because she had to cut back somewhere.”

The summer feeding program has evolved into a Meals on Wheels program.

“This year we did at least 300 meals a week,” she said. “I do it now because I have a heart for children and when you see children come to school in August, they’ve lost weight since you sent them home in May. I see them folding a roll or a piece of chicken in a napkin to take home to snack on later and it makes my heart cry.”