Why did you choose school nutrition as a career and what do you love about it?

My mother worked as the manager of my high school cafeteria—and she was more than a great manager, she was a great role model! I’ve been working in this profession and a member of SNA for 25 years.

Technology is my favorite part of the job. It’s really changed the scope of school nutrition. As a director, I have to ensure all systems are a go every day. Nutrition Services doesn’t outrank the classroom for IT assistance, so everything I can do to understand the technical aspects of our operation, the better I can help staff feel at ease when there’s a glitch. But a word to the wise: Train staff on how to do everything manually in case of power outages.

What is a bucket list vacation destination?

France. I have always loved the French language, and I would love to visit places that I studied in high school and college.

Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?

Enroll in the high school’s culinary program to learn foodservice basics. Research all the different career possibilities available by earning a nutrition degree.

If a genie granted you three wishes, what would they be?

Cure my granddaughter’s cerebral palsy; allow me to give all my grandchildren the finances to attend college and/or technical school and grant me a conversation with my late mother.

What is one thing you can’t live without right now?

My prescription glasses! I’ve been near-sighted since age 13. I tried contacts once, but I could not get used to them. I kept wanting to reach for my glasses whenever something was a little off.

What’s your favorite way to spend a day off?

Staying in comfortable lounge clothing, watching television and reading. My favorite literary genre is romance. Give me a good love story and I’m satisfied! For TV, I love investigative shows and will happily watch reruns of “The Closer,” “CSI,” “CSI: Miami” and even Perry Mason and Matlock. (You can probably sense a pattern here.) I’ve also watched nearly every episode of “NCIS”—Mark Harmon as Jethro Gibbs is a classic!

Name three foods you could happily subsist on if marooned with a lifetime supply.

Bananas, carrots and Ritz crackers.

Who would be among your dream dinner party guests?

My mother and my sister, who are both deceased. They were great influences in my life.

If any activity or skill could be turned into an Olympic sport, which would earn you a gold medal?

My knife skills! Chef Cyndie Story was my first teacher. Now, I’m regularly learning more techniques by watching different TV cooking shows. But I haven’t put my skills to use in creating food art—yet!

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Always do your best and be true to who you are.

SNA member Ida Daniels

Ida Daniels

Food & Nutrition Services Coordinator

Hamilton County, Fla.

Hamilton County School District