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Coughlan encourage Donegal Children to be 'Food Dudes'

'Mol an Óige agus tiocfaidh siad'

Speaking at Scoil Naisiúnta, Niall Mór in Killybegs, Co. Donegal today, the Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan TD, said she was pleased to launch the latest phase of the "Food Dude" programme in five Donegal schools.

Minister Coughlan said: "The intake of fruit and vegetables in Ireland is below international guidelines and the national target of 500g a day. Incentivising consumption is an innovative and proven means of increasing our children's exposure to, and fondness for, fruit and vegetables. It is incumbent on us to proactively encourage and develop healthy eating habits in our children during their formative years. By targeting young children, we are building the platform for a culture of healthy eating in the years to come."

The Food Dude programme focuses on three factors: taste exposure; modelling and rewards. Children are given the opportunity, through videos, to watch "peer models" eating fruit and vegetables, thus improving the image of these products. Rewards are given for tasting fruit and vegetables and children are encouraged to repeatedly taste various fruit and vegetables.

Over a three-year period, "Food Dude" will encourage over 30,000 schoolchildren, in up to 150 Irish primary schools, to consume more fruit and vegetables, and is already underway in schools in Cork, Dublin, Kerry, Louth, Waterford and Wexford.

NOTE FOR EDITORS

This campaign is being implemented under EU Council Regulation 2826/2000 on funding promotion and information programmes for agricultural products in the European Union. Programmes are jointly funded by the EU, the trade organisation and the Member State, and are submitted by trade organisations representative of the sector being promoted. €1.2m is being provided to fund the programme with contributions from the European Commission (€600,000), the Department of Agriculture and Food (€240,000) and €360,000 from Wholesale Produce Ireland Ltd, a representative body for the fresh produce industry in Ireland.

The Food Dude Programme was developed in the UK by the Bangor Food Research Unit at the University of Wales. A pilot project involving two Irish schools was carried out in 2002/2003 by Bord Glas, which merged with Bord Bia in 2004. The selection of schools by Bord Bia, in consultation with the Department of Education and Science, will emphasise in particular schools serving disadvantaged communities but also include different school sizes and regions.

12 May 2006

Date Released: 12 May 2006