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New ICAN coordinator joins NMSU Bernalillo County Extension office

ALBUQUERQUE – Nutrition education is Lydia Montoya’s passion. She has spread the gospel of healthy eating near and far at every level of government agencies. She is now New Mexico State University’s Ideas for Cooking and Nutrition program coordinator in Bernalillo County.

Three women sitting at a table, one in a flowery blouse
Lydia Montoya, left, New Mexico State University's Ideas for Cooking and Nutrition program coordinator in Bernalillo County, visits with nutrition educators Kim Tackett and Joyce Cisneros about upcoming classes they will be teaching to limited resource youth and adults to help them make healthy food and lifestyle choices. (NMSU photo by Jane Moorman)

When Montoya worked as a nutrition educator for NMSU’s Cooperative Extension Service in Bernalillo County during the summer of 1999, she never expected to be returning as the director of the program in December 2017.

“I’ve conducted all aspects of nutrition education and I know that the Extension service is a great resource for helping to improve the health of New Mexicans,” said Tularosa native Montoya.

After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in biology from NMSU and a bachelor’s and Master of Science in nutrition from the University of New Mexico, Montoya has taught nutrition to various audiences through UNM’s Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and the Center of Alcoholism, Substance Abuse and Addiction, the Women, Infants and Children Program with the state’s public health division, and the food and nutrition services at Albuquerque Public Schools.

“Lydia has a real good background on a lot of things that really feed into what we are doing with ICAN,” said Cindy Schlenker Davis, NMSU Bernalillo County Extension program director. “She understands the audience that we have to reach with the ICAN grant.”

Montoya has extensive experience with nutrition education, obesity prevention and U.S. Department of Agriculture nutrition guidelines, as well as other community health initiatives. She has worked with many communities and age ranges throughout the state.

She will supervise Bernalillo County’s eight ICAN nutrition educators, who teach through the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education. ICAN’s mission is to inspire New Mexico’s limited resource youth and adults to make healthy food and lifestyle choices.

The federally funded ICAN program is administered in 23 of New Mexico’s 33 counties.

“ICAN provides free nutrition lessons and education, as well as tastings and cooking demonstrations in eligible sites statewide,” said Donna Sauter, ICAN program director. “Last year, ICAN reached more than 123,000 eligible participants around the state with this important education and information, making a significant difference in the lives of New Mexico’s residents.”