When Cerbrenda Barbour's son gets home from football practice, the first words out of his mouth are often "I'm hungry."
Feeding her only son, Gary Brown, 17, can be a challenge. The 6-foot-3, 293-pound senior left tackle for Alonso High School has a big appetite, and keeping his hunger in check requires some planning and preparation.
On Tuesday afternoon, Barbour walks around Publix, adding food to her cart and checking things off her cellphone grocery list. Two salmon filets, 1 1/4 pounds of ground beef, three packages of breakfast sausage, and packages of sliced ham, chicken strips, chicken wings and bacon. Gary's favorite food is meat, but his mom balances that with other nutritious stuff, including green beans, mashed potatoes, collard greens, and apples. Broccoli is his favorite vegetable.
This week's grocery bill: $136.21.
Later that night, Barbour stands at the stove, seasoning ground beef and adding butter to a pot of mashed potatoes. She takes a quick trip to get Gary from practice. After arriving home, he takes out his contact lenses and puts his glasses on. They sit around the table together, mother and son, and say a prayer before a meal of meatloaf, mashed potatoes and broccoli. Gary has second helpings of meatloaf and potatoes.
"Gary eats more during football season because he needs it, because they just burn it off," his mom said. "He loves to eat meat, and he loves dessert. I curb his desserts quite a bit, but I let him eat as much meat, vegetables and carbs as he wants."
On Sept. 23, Gary committed to play football at Georgia Tech next fall and says he is not sure what he'll do for meals in college without his mother's home cooking.
"I might just be eating six packets of ramen noodles each day," Gary said.
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