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The legacy of a Western Slope lunch lady is still felt in the community

For nearly 40 years, Betty Lou Hawkins ran the Collbran school's lunch program with a stern presence. People still talk about her years after her passing.

COLLBRAN, Colo. — In a small town, everybody knows everybody. That's especially true in Collbran, located in the Plateau Valley about 45 minutes from Grand Junction. 

That's where Betty Lou Hawkins fed children of all ages at the town's one school for nearly 40 years. 

Betty is remembered for running the lunch program with a stern and memorable presence. She believed in hard work and strict rules, and taught her assistants how to bake bread and never to waste any food. 

The single mom even operated a ranch and occasionally would ride a horse to school. 

Her personality was so memorable, people still talk about her even though she passed away a few years ago. 

Tammy Entwistle applied for a job in the kitchen while Betty was still living, hoping to offer some fresh ideas for the lunch program. She wasn't hired. Ultimately, she said, it was Betty's kitchen and she ran it the way she wanted to run it.

Now, Tammy is the kitchen manager for the Plateau Valley School District. Like Betty, she knows every kid that walks through the lunch line.

Tammy decided it was her turn to make the school kitchen the center of attention this year by celebrating Betty Lou Hawkins Day. 

Everyone in Collbran got the chance to vote for a favorite Betty Lou recipe, and the votes helped raise money for the school lunch program. 

In the end, the Monte Cristo sandwich came out on top. It was a taste from the past, shared in the present. 

A recipe that's passed on in a kitchen where rules matter. 

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