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Let’s Cook! Peña Blanca

May 02, 2018

In many rural communities in New Mexico, parents often work 30-50 miles away from home and students are in extended after school programs. Let’s Cook! Peña Blanca is a part of our larger Kids Cook! (KC!) programming into these rural communities. The programs serve low-income families at an after school program at the Peña Blanca Inter-generational Community Center.

This was a five-week program. Students and seniors participated in four weeks of multicultural, hands-on cooking education. Then they had a Family Night in week five. At the Family Night, parents and extended family members were invited and got to participate in the cooking experience with their children and senior volunteers. At the end, everyone shared a meal together.

6 images of a child in various stages of preparing a recipe

After participating in Let's Cook!, a mom sent an email thanking us for reaching into their rural community. She shared the impact of the program on her son.

“I just wanted to thank you for your work with our children within our community here in Peña Blanca. I especially would like to thank Carol for her patience with our little ones. My son enjoyed the class so much, he had to fix dinner for the family which everyone enjoyed.”

- Let's Cook Peña Blanca, Parent Participant

Type of program Direct Nutrition education with family engagement component Years of Program Implementation 2000-present Number of Participants (In Pena Blanca Lets Cook! after school program) Twenty-one students (5-12 years old) Six senior volunteers Total # participants in all KC programs: 6200, with 2,073 family and community volunteers Target Audience Low income communities, schools, and families  Program Evaluation Kids Cook! conducts annual family and teacher evaluations. We participate in the NM SNAP

In New Mexico, the most food-insecure state in the nation, 31% of children live in poverty and 15% of Albuquerque School District kindergarteners are obese. KC provides educational opportunities, including Let's Cook Peña Blanca, for students and families. The classes inspire healthy eating and active living through our classroom and after-school programming.

For 18 years, KC has provided programming for over 40,000 students. KC works with low-income elementary school students and their families. The program increases their opportunities and willingness to try diverse, healthy foods. It also works to improve their food choices, preparation, sanitation, and safety skills. The program encourages daily exercise and eating fruits, vegetables, whole gains and low-fat dairy products. Our curriculum spans world and US regional cultures with an integrated approach meeting Common Core standards. All materials are written in Spanish and English. KC empowers students to carry healthy eating and active living to the home.

Outcome data

Results from the 2015 NM SNAP-Ed Evaluation Report conducted by UNM Research Prevention Center, fruit and vegetable consumption increased for all implementing agencies and the increase for KC was significant.

2015-16 Parent survey data*

  • 98% of families reported they would like to see KC return to their child’s school
  • 94% of families say their child talks about KC at home
  • 87% of families report their child id willing to try new or different foods
  • 87% of families report improvement in their child’s cooking skills
  • 82% of families report an increase child’s fruit consumption
  • 74% of families report an increase in child’s vegetable consumption
  • 50% of families report using KC recipes at home

*5222 surveys sent home. 3247 surveys returned (62% return)

Exposure to Kids Cook! has been tracked for 13,272 unique students (2007-2014) as part of the Healthy Weight Assessment Project (HWAP), a collaborative project between the Albuquerque Public School District and the NM DOH Community Data Collaborative (NMCDC). The HWAP dataset includes student weight, socio economic, demographic, health, academic, and absenteeism data. Preliminary analysis has demonstrated a statistically significant relationship between reduced absenteeism and Kids Cook! exposure.


Kids Cook! Is a SNAP-Ed Implementing Agency in New Mexico. For further information, please contact: Mary Meyer mary.meyer@kidscook.us (505) 400-9132. http://www.kidscook.us