School lunches aren't typically celebrated as mouth-watering affairs, but walking into the Mountain Avenue Elementary School cafeteria this week, the food told a different story.
Ripe tomatoes were stacked next to freshly plucked greens, which sat alongside carrots, cucumbers and cauliflower.
"It is exciting to see the changes that are going on," said Agnes Lally, food services director for the Glendale Unified School District.
The produce, which came from independent farms in Carlsbad, Fillmore, Tehachapi and Goleta, was being served to Mountain Avenue students as part of Farm to School, a two-week pilot program run by the Urban and Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College.
The focus of the study is to identify and overcome logistical barriers to getting locally grown produce into the mouths of schoolchildren, said Sharon Cech of the Urban and Environmental Policy Institute.
A lack of refrigeration, restricted staff time and high costs are among a long list of challenges that districts face in including fresh fruits and vegetables in school meals, Cech said. She cited as an example pears ordered from a San Luis Obispo farm that never made it to Mountain Avenue.