LOWER TOWNSHIP — Second-grader Kyle Speck ate his lesson plan at the Carl T. Mitnick School on Tuesday. He described it as both “delicious and juicy.”

Speck spent the day learning all about apples. Then he got to eat them.

The school district’s Wellness Committee came up with the idea of featuring different fruits and vegetables each month partly to get the students to eat more of them.

“We’ll do oranges in March, strawberries in May or June, and in October squash, and end with pumpkins and pumpkin pie,” Food Service Director Robert Morris said.

Teaching proper nutrition and making good food choices is a large part of the initiative.

“We really want to push the kids to eat healthier,” said Principal Jeff Samaniego, who dressed up as an apple for the occasion.

But that isn’t the only goal. Apples are also being used to teach a number of other subjects, including geography, history and economics.

The students did a map of the world and traced where apples were first cultivated (Asia) and where the top producing areas are (China, America, Turkey, Italy and Poland). The map even shows the top producing states in America, with Washington, New York and Michigan leading the pack. That lesson plan includes Marco Polo introducing apples to the West and the Pilgrims bringing them to America.

“The kids did all their apple research,” noted Samaniego.

They made it fun by having each class do a video extolling the virtues of the apple. One class simply did an apple cheer, give me an A, give me a P,” and so on until they all shouted “What’s that spell? Apple.”

Another class explained the vitamin and fiber benefits of eating them.

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” the kids state in the video.

Another made it clear apples are a good food choice.

“80 calories keep us lean, no fat, no sodium, no cholesterol, makes a healthy snack for all,” states the video.

All that learning can produce an appetite. That’s where Morris earns his keep.

“We had apple muffins for breakfast and lunch is apple crisp, apple juice and apples dropped in Jello,” Morris said.

The first- and second-grade students also munched on seven varieties of apple slices, including the Granny Smith, gala, golden delicious, red delicious, MacIntosh, Fuji, and braeburn.

“I like the green and yellow ones. I don’t really like the red ones,” said second-grader Liliana Short-Kapurelos.

Steven Lin, another second-grader, said he eats three apples a week “because they are juicy.” Lin likes red apples.

“They’re a good snack,” he said.

Morris said they are starting with fruits most children like already because “they’re the easy ones.” It may be harder to get them to embrace squash.

The program will also take the students to area farms and farm markets to find out where food is produced. Morris said many think food comes from the supermarket.

The apple program isn’t just at the Carl T. Mitnick School. The elementary district’s other three schools are doing it as well. The Wellness Committee that includes Morris, school nurses, teachers, PTA representatives and members of the public came up with the idea.

Contact Richard Degener:

609-463-6711