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School Fruit and Vegetables Scheme (SFVS)

The School Fruit and Vegetables component of the school scheme is implemented in Ireland through the national Food Dudes Programme

Added 02.05.18‌The Food Dudes Programme (FDP), is an evidence based, incentivised behaviour changing programme which was developed by Prof Fergus Lowe in Bangor University, Wales, and aims to encourage increased consumption of fruit and vegetables by primary school children by changing attitudes and cultivating a liking for fruit and vegetables. Under its horticulture remit, Bord Bia manages and oversees implementation of the Food Dudes Programme.

 

 

 

It is based on 3 core principles the 3 “R”S which are:

  • Repeated Tasting of raw fruit and vegetables which cultivates a liking for fruit and vegetables
  • Role Models which take the form of cartoon characters (Food Dudes)
  • Rewards – small prizes which incentivise the school children to take part and eat the fruit and vegetables

Through the programme portions of raw fruit and vegetable portions are provided to primary school children over an intervention period of 16 consecutive school days (called Phase 1). Figure 1 below shows the current range of produce provided to the children.

Added 02.05.18Supporting materials such as consumption diaries, a DVD of the Food Dude superheroes, some prizes, certificates and school room wall charts are also provided to maintain fruit and vegetable consumption in the longer term. After the initial 16 days of produce delivery, phase 2 of the programme commences which sees the focus switch to the home (which can run for a number of weeks) and which sees children bring in their own fruit & vegetable portions from home in Food Dudes lunchboxes distributed at the end of Phase 1.  

The Food Dudes Programme was first rolled out in Ireland in 2005 and ran till 2014. In all, 3,127 primary schools (95% of Irish primary schools) and 477,423 primary school children took part.  Building on its success, a Food Dudes Boost Programme was rolled out in 2014 with a focus on younger children.

  • Junior Cycle (Junior Infants to Second Class) taste fruit and vegetables daily for 16 days
  • Senior Cycle (Third Class to Sixth Class) taste fruit and vegetables on 8 tasting days during the same period, allowing for accelerated delivery of the programme to schools.
  • Over 4 years to 31 July 2018, all 3,300 primary schools will have had an opportunity to participate.

Table 1 below gives a breakdown of Food Dudes Programme participation numbers

School Year

Participating Schools

Number of pupils

2009-2010

386

53,748

2010-2011

384

59,635

2011-2012

384

63,644

2012-2013

385

62,101

2013-2014

378

55,570

2014-2015

690

117,163

2015-2016

701

122,136

2016-2017

825

129,019

The Food Dudes Programme has been evaluated a number of times. All evaluations showed that the Food Dudes Programme effectively increased fruit and vegetables consumption amongst its target group and that a sustained pattern of eating more fruit and vegetables was established amongst participating children. The most recent evaluation was carried out in 2016 by an expert team from UCD and evaluated the long term impact of the Food Dudes Programme on schools that participated in the 2010-2011 school year.  The results showed that the number of senior pupils bringing and consuming fruit and vegetables, remained significantly higher than before the Food Dudes intervention.

In line with the six – year Statement of Strategy submitted by Ireland in July 2017, the Food Dudes Programme will be further developed and fine tuned over the next year to deliver a more improved programme to school children with a particular focus on better communications, enhanced accompanying measures and accelerated delivery to schools.