Please share a little of your K-12 school nutrition journey.
I’m not positive if I chose this profession or it chose me. Since 1988, I knew I would be a registered dietitian, but I didn’t know school foodservice would be my path until a few years later. During my studies at Louisiana Tech University, I was lucky to have Dr. Paula Rhoades, a child nutrition director in northern Louisiana, as a professor, and she used many real-life situations in school nutrition in her classes. I still use many of these today! After 25+ years as a dietitian in foodservice management, I became a school nutrition director myself. I love the fast-paced energy, the people, the smiles and even the daily grind!
When did you join SNA?
I joined SNA in 2019 and have recently become more active in the West Virginia SNA. My first Annual National Conference (ANC) was supposed to have been 2020 in Nashville, but we all know what happened! So, my first was 2022 in Orlando—and it will always be my favorite, because it opened my eyes to the “why” directors should attend and encourage their district to support attendance by cooks and café managers. The continuing education, the Exhibit Hall, the networking—ANC is important to becoming a stronger director.
What was your best past vacation and future bucket list destination?
Tent camping on a beach with my husband and son has been the best vacation, thanks to the simplicity and the time we spent together. I want to return to England, where I lived as a young girl. I’d love to visit the village and the school I attended—and maybe meet someone who remembers me!
What is your favorite way to spend a day off?
Fishing, fishing and still more fishing!
Where is your happy place?
I was provided the opportunity to purchase the farm that has been in my family for more than 100 years in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana. When I want to disconnect and enjoy nature’s beauty and silence, I head to the farm!
What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
Do not drink punch from a garbage can. But more seriously, I would tell her to have fun and realize that she will make mistakes, but will learn and grow from them.
Name three foods you could happily subsist on if marooned with a lifetime supply.
Steak, wine (it’s made with grapes!) and Key lime pie.
What was the strangest food you’ve ever tried?
I have always been open to trying new foods, but the strangest was “Beef Knuckles.” I had it in Morelia, Mexico, where I accompanied Team USA Pan Am Cadet Wrestling. It was delicious with a spicy red sauce!
Who would be among your dream dinner party guests?
The women in my life who shaped who I am today, but who are no longer here with me: my mother, Grandmother Cox, Aunt Brenda and Ms. Connie Outley (colleague and friend).