Physical education class came with a special treat for students at Phillips Charter School this week.
On Thursday, P.E. teacher Leslie Diakon — known as “Coach Daisy” to the kids — stood out in the quad with a box of fresh snap peas for her students.
A class of second graders exchanged looks of uncertainty as Diakon passed out the veggies. After a few careful bites, most of the kids were wanting seconds.
Clutching a half-eaten snap pea, one little girl raised her hand and shouted to the class, “This is good!”
Her classmate, Gonzalo Chaves, said snap peas were one of his new favorite vegetables.
“They look like a hot chili pepper,” Chaves said.
Phillips is one several elementary schools in the Napa Valley Unified School District receiving deliveries of monthly tasting kits of fruits and vegetables.
The kits are part of the Harvest of the Month program, a farm-to-school project that aims to improve student nutrition, promote agricultural education, and provide farmers access to the school district’s food service program.
Each monthly kit includes a lesson plan, fruits and vegetables for tasting, and a video profiling the farm and explaining how the produce was grown.
This month’s snap peas came from Coke Farm in San Juan Bautista, south of San Jose.
As the kids snacked on the veggies, Diakon gave them flyers in Spanish and English that described the farm and the nutritional facts of snap peas.
“I want you to pull this out at dinner and have a conversation with your parents about the snap peas you had today,” Diakon told the class.
One of the goals of Harvest of the Month is to help kids “take ownership” of their own health, Diakon said. At home, children aren’t in charge of the grocery shopping, but they can talk to their parents about what they’re learning in school.
Many parents work several jobs and, oftentimes, it’s easier to pick up fast food for dinner, Diakon said.
“We’re hoping to encourage parents to make healthy food choices,” she said.
Every elementary school in the district was invited to participate in Harvest of the Month, and about 15 schools responded, according to the Napa County Farm Bureau. The program is not mandatory, so individual teachers can decide whether or not they want their class to be involved.
The Harvest of the Month program was implemented this February and will run through the 2014-15 school year.
The program was started thanks to a $250,000 grant awarded to the Napa County Farm Bureau’s Agriculture in the Classroom program by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Due to the limited number of fruit and vegetable farms in Napa County, the grant allows the local farm bureau to work with farms within 300 miles.
In February, participating schools received mandarins from Six Palms Ranch in Tulare County, north of Bakersfield. Broccoli was delivered in March, and a delivery of strawberries is scheduled for May.