Rainbow Days are a great way to acclimate students to the salad bar in your cafeteria. It also introduces the concept of eating a plate full of colorful fruits and vegetables.
On Rainbow Day, students are encouraged to use fruits and vegetables from the salad bar to create a “rainbow” of at least three colors on their tray. Once they have finished eating their creations, they’ll receive a sticker or other small reward.
We recommend obtaining financial sponsorship so that a free salad can be offered to every student. This is a foundation exercise that will produce long-term impact. Possible sponsors could include local businesses and existing vendors, or you could even pursue a grant for the event.
- Nutrition education: Introduces the concept of “eating the rainbow.” The simple practice of selecting different colors of fruits and vegetables for their plates enriches the students’ nutrition in a fun and accessible way. The event also helps students gain the confidence to seek out and try new foods.
- Waste reduction: “Take what you can eat, and eat what you take” is not only a good habit, but will also help reduce cafeteria waste.
- Etiquette: Teaches students how to use a salad bar, including utensils and management of the tray and serving boat or plate, and raises awareness of the possibility of spills and cross-contamination.
- Participation: When marketed in advance, a Rainbow Day event will increase meal participation.
- School and Parent Engagement: This activity is designed to bring food services, school administrators, teachers, and parents together in the dining room to participate in an activity that not only has a direct impact on children’s health, but also showcases food services.
- Teacher Engagement: A Rainbow Day can be an opportunity for a food service-focused event to link with classroom education. We’ve seen all kinds of great partnerships, including musical compositions created or performed to accompany the event, language arts projects like rainbow poetry, classes of students dressed in rainbow colors, and costumes and artwork connecting fruits and vegetables to the rainbow theme.
- Administrative and Parent Volunteer Engagement: Food service staff members may be the unsung heroes of your school. A Rainbow Day gives administrators and parent volunteers a chance to collaborate with food services staff. It also involves school administrators in an educational activity in the cafeteria, a location rarely identified as a learning environment.
- Community Sponsorship: This activity creates the opportunity for community sponsorship, which will allow the entire student population to participate, whether in the reimbursable meal program or bringing lunch from home. Sponsorship can cover the additional costs of providing a free side salad to every child. Making the event inclusive increases the potential long-term impact by encouraging future reimbursable meal participation from children who routinely pack a lunch from home.
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