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What is the Food Dudes Programme and how does it work?

The Food Dudes Healthy Eating Programme is an award winning programme developed by the Food & Activity Research Unit Bangor University, Wales to encourage children to eat more fruit and vegetables both in school at home. It is based on positive role models (the Food Dudes characters), repeated tasting and rewards.

There are two main phases to the programme: Phase 1 is an intensive intervention which lasts 16 days. During this time, fruit and vegetables are delivered to the school, one portion of each per child. They are read a letter and/or watch a specially designed DVD of the Food Dudes (super-hero characters). Each day the children are rewarded with stickers or small prizes for successfully eating the fruit and veg. This phase is primarily school based.

Phase 2 extends the home element of the programme by encouraging children to bring their own fruit and veg to school every day in special Food Dudes containers. Classroom wall charts are used to record progress, and the children receive certificates upon reaching goals. This phase maintains fruit and veg consumption in the longer term.

As the programme has been proven to be most effective with younger classes all the key elements of the original Food Dudes programme will be made available for all pupils in Junior Infants to Second class. This includes 16 days of prepared bulk produce fruit and vegetables, 12 stickers and 4 rewards per child and the Food Dudes DVDs. The senior classes in the school will be provided with fruit and vegetables for four tasting days, and will receive four Food Dudes rewards. All children will receive certificates in Phase 2 for continued fruit and vegetable consumption.

How effective is the Food Dudes Programme?  
60% of teachers reported that children were eating one more portion of fruit, 26% reported that children were eating two more portions of fruit while 6% said that children were now eating three or more portions of fruit after Phase 1 of the programme. The majority of teachers (83%) reported that children were eating more portions of lunchbox vegetables following the Food Dudes programme. For more information, please see the Evaluation of the Programme on the Schools page of this website.
Do all classes in a school participate?
Yes, the Food Dudes Healthy Eating Programme is operated as a Whole School Initiative.  
Can any school apply to participate?  
Currently we intend introducing the programme to every primary school in the Republic of Ireland. However this is contingent on funding being available from year to year. Any school can contact us and express their interest in participating in the programme and we will try to prioritise these schools during our planning process.  
How are schools selected?  
We select schools in blocks of 20 schools that are reasonably adjacent to each other to facilitate deliveries of fruit and vegetables before lunch break, and to allow for meaningful project management visits.  
If a school cannot participate when offered the programme will it get a chance to participate later?  
Due to logistical constraints, it is unlikely that a school that initially declines the programme can choose to partake at a later date.  
What training is provided for teachers?  
Teachers will receive comprehensive notes on how to run the programme in their class. One teacher from each school will be appointed as Food Dudes Coordinator and will receive a training presentation by email. A Food Dudes Project Manager will visit your school several times and assist with the implementation of the Food Dudes Healthy Eating Programme.  
What support is provided to ensure the smooth running of the programme?  
A designated Food Dudes Project Manager will visit the school several times and provide ongoing support to the teachers running the programme.  
Can a school get rewards and videos and implement the programme itself?  
No, it has been proven that the programme works best when implemented as laid out by the Food & Activity Research Unit which includes the provision of fruit and veg.  
How time consuming is implementing the programme for teachers?  
The programme takes between 10-30 minutes per day, depending on the age group of the class. It has been designed by Teachers with the hectic teaching schedule in mind. There are curriculum links available on the schools page of this site, to allow teachers to incorporate the programme into many different subjects.  
What fruit & vegetables are provided?  
4 types of fruit and 4 types of vegetables are provided and repeated 4 times over a 16 day period. This is to encourage repeated tasting. The varieties provided to date are: apples, oranges, bananas, pears, cherry tomatoes, raisins, sweet peppers, carrot batons, swede batons, cucumber slices and shredded cabbage. This varies depending on availability and seasonality.  
Is the programme available in Irish for Gaelscoileanna and Schools in the Gaeltacht?  
The programme is available in Irish. All materials are available, in Irish, to Gaelscoileanna and Gaeltacht schools and print materials intended for home use are available in both Irish and English. top


This programme is managed by Bord Bia and receives financial support from the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine and the European Union through the School Fruit Scheme.

Bord Bia: Irish Food Board
European Union
Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Food
Copyright Food Dudes 2006 - 2011