There is a wealth of evidence showing that the more we taste a novel food, the more we learn to like it. How many tastes are required to establish liking for a particular food can vary across foods and individuals may range from just a few tastes to 15 or more.
It is important, therefore, that interventions are designed to ensure that children get the opportunity to taste repeatedly the same set of fruit and vegetables. To ensure that children get to like both fruit and vegetables, both should be made available with efforts to strengthen the presence and liking of vegetables of fundamental importance.
Another crucial consideration, however, is to help children overcome any initial “neophobia” (i.e. fear of novel foods) or resistance to tasting known fruit and vegetables.
As such, the Food Dudes programme ensures:
Through the programme, portions of fresh fruit and vegetables are provided over an intervention period of 16 consecutive school days (Phase 1). Furthermore, between the Phase 2, at home element and during Phase 3, maintenance phase, tasting days are provided with a more veritable fruit and vegetable offering provided.
To encourage tasting, pupils were rewarded with small prizes and certificates as well as being shown DVD episodes of the Food Dudes Heroes enjoying fruit and vegetables.
A whole school approach to health and wellbeing is considered, with rewards reflecting this.
In addition, the new Food Dudes programme now offers specialised rewards to those partaking in the programme. These rewards have been sourced for children with impaired fine motor skills and include:
Children are very influenced by what they see others do. The Food Dudes programme exposes children to positive role models in the form of the heroic Food Dudes characters and real-life peers i.e. classmates, friends, teachers and family. Each day during the school-based intervention, pupils receive a letter from the Food Dudes and/or watch an episode from the DVD featuring the characters as well as some well-known Irish faces. Both the letters and DVD tell the tale of the characters in their quest to get children to eat more healthy fruit and vegetables.
By eating fruit and vegetables, the Food Dudes gain special powers which enable them to save the world and the ‘Life Force’ from a gang of baddies, The Junk Punks. General Punk and his side-kicks, Miss Demeanour and Master Disaster are trying to drain the energy of the world by depriving it of nutritious healthy foods. With special powers, given to them by eating a colourful selection of fresh fruit and vegetables, the Food Dudes feed the ‘Life Force’ and foil the Junk Punks!
Join the Food Dudes and help keep the Junk Punks at bay…