Theresa Jaen is trying to teach her grandkids to grow their own vegetables.

But Monday, she surprised her granddaughter with a lunch you can’t grow in your backyard: Whataburger.

Rylee Mata, 5, raced down the aisles of the cafeteria at Shields Elementary School when she saw her granny waiting for her there. The kindergartner joined Jaen, her grandma, and Mildred Bradley, her great-great-aunt, for a Grandparents’ Day lunch at Shields Elementary.

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Bradley is teaching Jaen, Rylee and Rylee’s sister how to raise a garden, Jaen said. Bradley said they’re planting “everything edible” when it comes to vegetables and that right now there are green beans, squash, cucumbers and bell peppers growing in their garden.

Jaen and Bradley hope that if Rylee grows the vegetables herself, she’ll be more excited to eat them.

“Usually kids love vegetables they help to grow,” Bradley said.

At a nearby table, first-grader Anastasia Luna was happily eating french fries with her PoPo, Leonard Bermea.

Anastasia said she and her PoPo like to go to the pool, play outside together and roast marshmallows by the fire when the weather gets cool.

Bermea, who is the police chief in Seadrift, was at Shields to have lunch with Anastasia and her little brother.

Bermea said he was also planning to bring lunch to his oldest granddaughter in junior high, even though her school no longer organizes a formal Grandparents’ Day lunch.

“She said, ‘Can you come visit me anyway?’” Bermea said, smiling. “I appreciated it because she’s going to be a teenager and she still wants me to eat lunch with her.”

Ciara McCarthy covers local health issues for the Victoria Advocate as a Report for America corps member. You can reach her at or at 580-6597 or on Twitter at @mccarthy_ciara.

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Health Reporter

Ciara McCarthy covers public health for the Advocate as a Report for America corps member. She reports on insurance, the cost of health care, local hospitals, and more. Questions, tips, or ideas? Contact: or call 361-580-6597.

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