Caeden Becker, 10, examines some of the fruit at the salad bar during Rainbow Day on Thursday at Skyview Elementary in Windsor. The special lunch period encouraged students to try out new foods.Joshua Polson/

Rainbow Day introduces Skyview Elementary students to a rainbow of fruits and vegetables

Windsor | February 5, 2015

James Redmond


The Windsor-Severance Re-4 School District Nutrition Services will hold the next Rainbow Days in March and May. For information about nutrition services programs and possible volunteering opportunities contact Laura Stoneman, nutrition services director at

Skyview Elementary School students crowded around the salad bar Thursday excitedly grabbing fruits and vegetables to fill their plastic trays.

Blueberries, clementines and Granny Smith apples went first, but adventurous students grabbed peppers, eggplant and even radishes. Sitting around cafeteria tables, the kids peeled open peas and tentatively bit into squash.

Throughout the room a face would pucker when a student bit into a Granny Smith apple and many more students smiled while ferrying blueberries into their mouths. Not all of the students liked all of the fruits and vegetables the school had specially put out for the day; most of them said they tried something new though.

As kids loaded their lunches and bellies with fresh and healthy foods, school staff and volunteers smiled at the sight. Rainbow Day was a success.

Thursday was the first of three Rainbow Days at Skyview, all made possible through a $2,500 “Mission Nutrition” grant from the Chef Ann Foundation. The school received the grant in December and the Windsor-Severance Re-4 School District Nutrition Services department started preparing the program.

For Rainbow Day the school had a special salad bar with fruits and vegetables from all colors of the rainbow. Students were encouraged to take at least three different colors and “make a rainbow” of their own, said Paula Smolaga, nutrition services dietetic intern.

Whether students brought their own lunch or ate the school’s meal, all of them were invited to eat from the salad bar for free. Rainbow Day is about giving everyone access to fruits and vegetables, teaching students about nutrition and maybe even introducing students to new foods.

“(The schools) have pretty good salad bars as it is,” said Laura Stoneman, nutrition services director, “but anytime you do something like this you get the students excited for something new and different, and hopefully, that will be sustainable and they will continue to take different things and try different things.”

Because of the grant, the school has the opportunity to get different types of fruits and vegetables that the district might not normally purchase. For the first Rainbow Day, the eggplant and squash were most likely new to the students, Stoneman said. She was curious to see how the students embraced those foods, and it seems some did, she said. “That feels very good.”

AJ Sparks, a fifth-grade student, said he does not usually get excited about the salad bar. But when he saw everything set up for Rainbow Day, he got excited for his at the turn at to pick out fruits and vegetables. Red bell peppers ended up being his favorite new food.

Volunteers from Colorado State University worked with nutrition services staff to keep things moving smoothly, explaining the new foods to students and teaching them about the nutritional importance of eating varied fruits and vegetables. As each of the three lunch periods came to a finish, volunteers handed out stickers to the students who ate their fruits and vegetables.

Between lunch periods, volunteers and staff rushed to weigh and refill the pans at the salad bar.

Each pan was weighed before and after every lunch period during Rainbow Day for a plate waste assessment as a part of the event.

Volunteers worked to weigh the pans on the salad bar “before and after each lunch period, just to see how much was actually getting taken versus thrown away,” Smolaga said.

Students also received surveys asking students what colors of foods they tried, which they liked the most along with gathering other feedback about the event. “I’m hoping to see some purple and reds circled on there,” she said.

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