Comal Independent School District teamed with the San Antonio Food Bank on Friday to help introduce elementary school students to the advantages of eating farm fresh local foods.

The food bank had its Mobile Mercado visit Morningside Elementary School, and students from several grades and classes got an opportunity to check out the fancy food truck/farmer’s market and taste freshly sautéed locally grown produce.

“I think it is a good opportunity for kids who haven’t tried healthy foods,” said 10-year-old fifth grader Bethany Rothrock. “It’s great that they give out the recipes so we can make this at home, and we can buy these things at the store and live a healthier lifestyle.”

Out of the mouths of babes.

Bethany got the point of the visit from Mobile Mercado and Chef Mario Perez, who prepared samples of zucchini for the children. Perez gave out recipe cards so the students could take them home and share with their parents the virtues of eating fresh fruits and vegetables.

“Most all of the children take a sample,” Perez said. “It’s not something they usually get at home.”

Micaeli Smith is the physical education, health and wellness coordinator for Comal ISD. She said throughout the month of October, the district is celebrating Farm Fresh Fridays as a part of the Farm Fresh initiative with the Texas Department of Agriculture. The events are designed to connect people with local farmers.

The goal is to increase community collaborations, promote healthy lifestyles and improve the Texas economy, according to the Texas Department of Agriculture website.

Smith said the school district has 17 campuses with active gardens that serve about 1,300 kids.

Comal ISD Superintendent Andrew Kim visited Morningside Elementary on Friday. He said he was excited to see the children participating. Kim said students help cultivate a garden at the school, which offers other learning opportunities related to those the Mobile Mercado provide.

“We just want our kids to have a level of understanding about where food comes from,” he said. “We also want our kids to be aware of nutrition.”

Growing food, buying locally grown food, cooking it and eating it provide lifelong lessons, Kim said. Also, the elementary students get to expand their horizons.

“We want to provide opportunities for our kids,” Kim said.

Kealayna Jackson, a 9-year-old third-grader at Morningside said she is learning the lessons. Kealayna said she helps with the garden at the school.

She said she is excited to see the cabbage she helped plant grow, even though she doesn’t like the taste of it herself. She is open to trying new dishes, though, and knows the value of eating fruits and vegetables, and other fresh produce, Kealayna said.

“It’s important to eat healthy,” she said. “Because you can get in better shape if you eat healthy.”

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