Texas Man Finds and Reprints Late Mother’s 1960s School Cafeteria Cookbook

Dusty Hudgins was going through his late mother’s things earlier this year when he came across her old cookbooks. One of them, titled Our Favorite Recipes by the Abilene School Food Service Association, piqued his interest.

In the 1960s and ’70s, Florice Hudgins spent 10 years as a cafeteria worker in the Abilene, Texas, school district. On the inside cover of the small, stained cookbook, Dusty found his mom’s signature and a date: February 26, 1963.

The 58-year-old book featured recipes submitted by the city’s lunch ladies—from cornbread to cobbler.

“These recipes are not necessarily the meals you ate in the lunchroom,” he told Southern Living. “These are the lunchroom lady’s ‘favorite’ recipes. They are what they cooked for their families on Sunday.”

Dusty decided to share photos of the cookbook in “Remember in Abilene when…” a private Facebook group dedicated to the history of Abilene.

“I thought it might be of interest to some of the members, so I posted a picture with a little teaser as to what was inside,” he told Southern Living. “Within a few days, I had over 600 likes and almost as many comments, many of them saying ‘I want one!'”

That’s when Dusty got the idea to reprint his mom’s old cookbook. With help from the Facebook group, he got in contact with the original publisher in Iowa.

“I thought certainly they can’t be in business 60 years later, but lo and behold, they were,” he recalled.

Sadly, the publisher no longer had the original files. Instead, after some discussion, Dusty decided to send them his copy so they could re-typeset it and reprint it.

“The cover of the new book is a little off-white because of some stains from the original cover,” he told CNN. “They paid a lot of attention to detail, and it looks nice.”

Dusty now sells copies of the book for $20 each and donates the proceeds to Love & Care Ministries. The Abilene-based nonprofit has a program called Carepack for Kids that sends students home on Friday with enough food to get them through the weekend.

News coverage of the cookbook has led to a boom in sales. Dusty said he’s already sold hundreds and will probably have to order more soon.

In addition to giving back to the community, Dusty says that reprinting Our Favorite Recipes has connected people with family recipes they thought had been lost.

“I have had a number of people [reach out and] say ‘This is my grandmother’s cobbler’ or ‘This is my great aunt’s meatloaf,’ which adds that much more nostalgia to the whole thing,” he told Southern Living.

To order your own copy of Our Favorite Recipes, email Dusty at [email protected].

But be prepared for some serious throwback recipes. “If you don’t know what lard, Accent, Crisco or oleo are, you will need to educate yourself,” Dusty notes.