HARLEM — It’s not every day students get to hang out with soccer superstars while being served food by a celebrity chef.
But dozens of kids from the Lexington Academy got a firsthand lesson in fitness Monday from soccer pros from the New York City Football Club and a hands-on session in nutrition from Marcus Samuelsson at his restaurant Ginny’s Supper Club.
The East Harlem school has a burgeoning soccer program, being the first public school in the city to have an enclosed rooftop soccer field.
It also makes nutrition a top priority, as health issues are prevalent in the neighborhood — including diabetes and high blood pressure, said the school’s parent coordinator Yaniferz Cantor.
The kids were served a kale salad garnished with apples and onions — not only to test their pallets but to show them that eating healthy can be fun, Samuelsson said.
“You can’t eat pizza every day if you want to get your muscles up,” he said. “If you have vegetables and have a hard time eating them, mix in a little fruit.”
The kids also got a healthy serving of life and career advice.
International soccer pro Jason Hernandez, who attended with several other pros from NYCFC, told the budding footballers that aside from nutrition, they need to work hard and keep their grades up.
“Education was very important in my house,” he said. “If I didn’t get good grades, I couldn’t play soccer.”
Samuelsson, who told the kids that he took up cooking after being cut from the soccer team at their age, agreed.
“You have to work hard," he said. "You have to make sacrifices."