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New Mexico State University

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NMSU's Diabetic Cooking Schools Win National Award

LAS CRUCES - A diabetes education team from New Mexico State University earned national recognition for cooking schools that reached diabetics and their families in 30 counties.


Educators with NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service won the western region and national Florence Hall Award at the National Extension Association for Family and Consumer Sciences conference this month in Louisville, Ky. The award recognizes exemplary programs that meet families' needs.

Nearly 121,000 adult New Mexicans have diabetes, or about 9 percent of the population, according to the New Mexico Department of Health.

To provide hands-on experience in preparing healthy foods, NMSU started "Kitchen Creations: A Cooking School for People with Diabetes and Their Families" in 2001. Nearly 200 people participated in the free classes that year. By 2003, more than 1,000 New Mexicans took part in one of 53 schools, several of which were offered in Spanish or bilingually.

Each session in the four-part course begins with advice on nutrition and exercise from registered dietitians and diabetes educators. Then participants break into small groups to prepare healthy meals and snacks.

"There's something about cooking together that people find very supportive," said team leader Linda Wells, coordinator for NMSU's Ideas in Cooking and Nutrition (ICAN) program. "As people in the class learn to make healthy foods, they also encourage each other."

Extension provides free ingredients, utensils and recipe books for participants to take home. Classes are open to anyone with Type 2 diabetes, their families and caregivers. For more information about Kitchen Creations classes in your area, contact Karen Halderson, diabetes program coordinator, at (505) 332-3765.

Winning team members include Wells; Halderson; Ann Vail, head of NMSU's family and consumer sciences and Extension home economics departments; Martha Archuleta, NMSU food and nutrition specialist; Kari Bachman, program coordinator; Charolette Collins, northern New Mexico coordinator for NMSU's Strengthening Families Initiative; Mindy Denny, state 4-H specialist; Cheryl Maxwell, registered dietitian; and Raylene McCalman, former "Kitchen Creations" diabetes coordinator.

Participating Extension home economists were Patricia Aaron and Virginia Alexander, Bernalillo County; Starley Anderson, formerly of Eddy County; Robin Baker, Lea County; Lynne Beam, San Juan County; Glenda Belcher, Curry County; Brenda Bishop, Quay County; Sandy Cassen, formerly of Cibola County; Margaret Dines, Grant County; Imelda Garcia, Santa Fe County; Connie Moyers, Roosevelt County; Marsha Palmer, Lincoln County; Shelly Porter, Colfax County; Roberta Rios, Rio Arriba County; Gayla Weaver, Doņa Ana County; Carolynn Wilson, Rio Arriba and Taos counties; and Shannon Wooton, Chaves County.