Our school were delighted to engage with the Food Dudes Programme again this year. We promote healthy eating in our school. The Student Council played a central role in helping to distribute fruit and vegetables to all classes everyday for the duration of the programme.
What is Food Dudes?
Food Dudes is an award winning curriculum-linked evidence-based healthy eating programme, developed to encourage children to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables. It is based on repeated tastings of fresh fruit and vegetables, rewards and positive role models.
A new and improved programme is now being rolled out in schools and includes new varieties of fruits and vegetables, additional tasting days, new eco-friendly rewards, and new supporting materials including DVD and bilingual activities.
The 3 R’s
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:
- Children begin to taste the foods in early childhood
- The overall experience is enjoyable
- Children continue to taste, and then eat whole portions, until taste acquisition is fully established.
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 well-being is considered, with rewards reflecting this.
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!
The children will sample some of the following foods.
And many more!