There were apples everywhere. There were apples in boxes in the minivan. There were more apples in boxes at the school. There were green apples and red apples and yellow apples – big ones and small ones – sweet ones and tart ones – and many of them went home with families who received Thanksgiving dinners from the Salvation Army earlier this week.
Students at M.E.A.D. (Mead Education Alternative Division) High School put on an apple drive serving two purposes: to get a healthy snack of fresh fruit to families who may otherwise go without, and to put on an educational program about nutrition. Teacher Carole Allen got the idea during a fall planning session.
“We all liked the idea, so we decided to run it by the kids to see if they could get into it,” said teacher Teri Inman.
They could. By Monday morning the students had collected and picked 6,000 pounds of apples – or around 20,000 apples.
The plan was for the students to join the Salvation Army’s turkey giveaway on Tuesday, and to give an apple to every person who came through the line.
However, a blizzard warning and an extremely cold weather forecast changed things a little bit.
“We are giving half the apples to the Salvation Army and the other half will go to the Second Harvest Food Bank,” Inman said. Before the bulk of the apples are hauled downtown, the school will give 50 smaller bags of apples to the Mead Food Bank.
“We are really excited about the kids giving apples to everyone at the turkey giveaway,” said Sheila Geraghty, business administrator at the Salvation Army. “It’s a great idea.”
Some of the apples were picked by students at Walters’ Fruit Ranch on Green Bluff, others were collected at local elementary schools where the students gave presentations about nutrition and fitness.
The schools were selected by the students, who picked their favorite teacher’s classroom or a school they otherwise felt closely connected to.
Miranda Atkins-Kovalenko, 16, and Melissa Shilliam, 17, were part of the team that gave a presentation at Midway Elementary School last week.
“We do the presentations so the kids can get involved and so they know that healthy is good,” said Atkins-Kovalenko. “We want them to think that being healthy is like that new purse, you just got to have it.”
The elementary school kids had many questions, such as “What is the Salvation Army?”
“They are thinking army like in the military,” Shilliam said. “And they ask what obese means. And they ask about self-esteem – like they are confused about what that is.”
Atkins-Kovalenko went to Green Bluff to pick apples.
“The people at Walters’ farm were just so supportive, it’s been really great,” she said, adding that she’s actually allergic to apples. “Yeah, I won’t eat any of them, but that’s OK.”
Inman said the apple drive emphasizes nutrition and fitness.
“It merges the two areas that we are all studying,” Inman said.