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Minister Coveney Welcomes the Reach to 80% of National Schools of the Healthy Eating Programme - Food Dudes - Next Generation Programme Piloted in Response to School Demand

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, was delighted to announce today, that  his Department and Bord Bia’s initiative of proactively promoting a healthy eating policy for school going children through the Food Dudes Programme has now reached over 2,743 national schools, delivering its fun-filled message to over 400,000 children to date.

The Minister said “These numbers mean that over 80% of all national schools have participated in Food Dudes.  Our Food Dudes Programme not only catches the imagination of the children but also their parents. The Programme and Food Dudes – the Next Generation follow-on programme - have the capacity to make a positive impact on children’s eating habits and to play a significant role in contributing to a sustainable behaviour change in addressing the major challenge of obesity”.

Minister Coveney sent out a call to all the children going to Bloom in the Phoenix Park over the June bank holiday weekend to visit the Bord Bia Food Dudes Stand in the Children’s Zone “I know that all parents are aware of the necessity of a healthy diet for their children and the important role that fruit and vegetables play in the formation of healthy eating habits at an early age.  I am aware that parents and teachers alike welcome both the Food Dudes and its Next Generation Programme in the school curriculum.  It endorses what parents are teaching their children in the home and supports the necessity to increase children’s fruit and vegetable consumption”.

The Minister added that many schools had sought a follow-on programme to Food Dudes and so Bord Bia was piloting Food Dudes Next Generation, a programme also developed by the University of Wales, in 24 schools in 2012 and 100 schools this year. This will ensure that new school entrants will experience at the earliest possible stage the rewarded tasting of four fruit and four vegetables in a younger age group setting.

“I would urge all those schools who have not yet participated in the Food Dudes and schools interested in Food Dudes Next Generation to sign up as soon as possible” the Minister concluded as he emphasised that by educating our young to the positives of a healthy eating regime means enhancing their lifelong wellbeing.

Notes for the Editor

The Food Dudes Next Generation Programme provides the new intake of children to national schools each year with rewarded tasting of four fruit and four vegetables similar to the existing whole school programme. The Food Dudes Next Generation Programme was piloted in 24 schools in 2012 and will now be rolled out to 100 schools in 2013. Schools who would like to participate in the programme can go to for further information.

Food Dudes is a programme developed by the University of Wales, Bangor, to encourage children to eat more fruit and vegetables both in school and at home. It is based on the proven 3 R’s -  a) positive role models (the Food Dudes characters), b) repeated tasting and c) rewards. The Programme has been proven to have been effective and has resulted in long lasting significant increases in the consumption of fruit and vegetables by the children who participate in the programme. The National roll out of the programme commenced in Ireland in 2007 and by mid May 2013, a total of 2,743 national schools (83% of all NS) and 419,813 children had participated in the programme. It is aimed to complete the national roll out of the programme by the end of 2014.  

The Food Dudes Programme is funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine with co-funding from the EU School Fruit Scheme. A European Commission report in 2012 on the EU School Fruit Scheme noted that the strong accompanying measures which are a significant feature of the mode of implementation of the Food Dudes Programme in Ireland are responsible for a sustained increase in children’s fruit and vegetables consumption.

Bloom takes place in the Phoenix Park Dublin from Thursday 30th May to Monday 3rd June. For further information go to

Date Released: 31 May 2013