How about some tasty garbanzo beans?

COSTA MESA — A line of students stretched outside of the cafeteria, waiting to be served tasting-sized portions of 21 fruits and vegetables.

Some of the samples were well-known flavors — watermelon and strawberries — while others, like jicama, garbanzo beans, figs and dates, were more unusual to the young tastebuds.

The students with the more foreign fruits had to try harder to get their peers to sample their wares, but no student put in more effort than the one hawking zucchini.

"Want to try a zucchini?" pleaded seventh-grade student Christopher Hutchinson, 13, offering a single slice. "Come on! Just one?"

Costa Mesa middle and high schools' Student Nutrition Advocacy Club, or SNAC, hosted the fourth-annual A to Z Salad Bar on Thursday to encourage students and employees to eat more fruits and vegetables by giving them a chance to expand their knowledge beyond the typical carrots, lettuce and tomatoes.

"We want them to try new things," said SNAC President Monique Nguyen, 15.

The club hosted the free event during both middle and high school lunches with help from for the Network for a Healthy California, which was brought in by the Newport-Mesa Unified School District's nutrition services.

SNAC has been working all year to make school lunches healthier and succeed in making changes to the salad and yogurt served, said senior Idalma Cruz, 18, adding they also got pasta changed to whole grain and white rice to brown.

During the middle school lunch, students sat around nibbling on fruit and vegetables as their lunch — or in some cases, as an appetizer to the cheeseburger or pizza they bought. For some, it was a chance to try something new.

"I tried the mango," said seventh-grade student Lucia Rasmussen, 13. "It was really good. It was sweet and delicious. It tasted like candy."

For Christopher, the event and getting involved with the club was a chance to get healthy.

He said he has learned a lot about fiber, Vitamin C and nutrition, and has started incorporating more fruit into his diet.

"They've helped me make more healthy choices," he said.

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