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New Mexico State University

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Registered Dietitian Will Teach Nutrition in Rio Arriba and Taos Counties

ALBUQUERQUE - Registered dietitian Cheryl Maxwell with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service will offer nutrition classes for low-income families and people with diabetes in Rio Arriba and Taos counties.


Maxwell, who joined NMSU in January, will direct the Ideas for Cooking and Nutrition (ICAN) program that Extension offers to food stamp recipients.

"More than 7,000 people in Rio Arriba and Taos counties are enrolled in the food stamp program, and many more families are eligible but not enrolled," Maxwell said. "I'll work to encourage more people to enroll and I'll teach food safety, food preparation and basic nutrition. I want to help people manage their food budgets more efficiently and get the most from their food dollars."

Maxwell will offer nutrition classes for children and adults, as well as cooking classes for people with diabetes about healthy ways to prepare traditional New Mexican dishes.

"I love working with people, and I have lots of enthusiasm and skills that I want to share to help people make better food and nutrition choices," Maxwell said. "I especially want to work with children to help them get a good, healthy start in life."

Maxwell worked for nearly 24 years with Dairy Max Inc., a mid-western organization funded by the dairy industry that works to promote milk and dairy products as part of a healthy diet. She worked as program director, supervising staff in Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

She left Dairy Max in September 2000 to work as a home economist with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service in Dallas County, in south Arkansas. Maxwell has a bachelor's degree in home economics and a master's degree in foods and nutrition, both from the University of Arkansas.

Unlike most county Extension programs, where a home economist trains and supervises a staff of nutrition educators, Maxwell will work directly with low-income families and people with diabetes, with her responsibilities divided between Rio Arriba and Taos counties.

"It's a new approach to have a professional dietitian work directly in the field rather than supervise nonprofessional staff," said Rey Torres, Taos County Extension program director. "We have a lot of need up here, so we decided to hire a well-trained and experienced nutritionist who can provide top quality education for youth and adults."

Roberta Rios, Rio Arriba Extension program director, said she's excited about trying a different model for the ICAN program. "Cheryl's a registered dietitian with lots of hands-on experience working with people," Rios said. "We're lucky to have her."

For more information, call Maxwell at (505) 753-3405.