We are extremely proud of the Food Boost Challenge research team! During the Prize Parade at THiNKFeST, Machteld van Lieshout, Wendy Scholtes-Bos and Sanne de Vries received the Pim Breebaart Research Award on behalf of the Health Innovation Centre of Expertise. According to the unanimous jury, in addition to a qualitatively strong study, they also set up and conducted the most innovative research.

The Pim Breebaart Research Award values research that can play a bridging role between research, education and practice not only with a physical award, but also with a cheque for €5,000 to invest in research. Their appreciation of the research was also clear in the jury’s report: ‘This research on healthy eating for young people was set up and conducted through an effective collaboration with relevant stakeholders and a diverse group of young people. In addition to the high quality of the research, the researchers were able to demonstrate that their research can add strong value to education, research and practice.’

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What is the Food Boost Challenge?
Students are challenged to make fruit and vegetable (products) more popular among young people between the ages of 12 to 24. This enables students to actually influence their own eating patterns and those of future generations. Ideas may range from a completely new product, a brilliant concept for a game, event or technology that promotes healthy eating.

What makes this research special is that, besides being conducted with relevant stakeholders, a diverse group of senior secondary vocational education and training (MBO), universities of applied science (HBO) & research university (WO) students also participated. These were not only students from food-related degree programmes, such as Nutrition & Dietetics and Process & Food Technology but also students from Communication, ICT and Finance and Control, for example. All four phases of the challenge involved students: from research to forming ideas and from concept development to prototyping.

Want to know learn about the Food Boost Challenge in 90 seconds? Watch the animation!

Incentives to achieve real results
For all their hard work, students could count on serious prizes. At the end, ten student teams presented their solution to entice young people to eat more fruit and vegetables. The Veggie Smooth - a smoothie containing 60% vegetables and 40% fruit - emerged as the big winner and went home with €5,000 and two plane tickets to America for inspiration to further market their product.

Alice, one of the Veggie Smooth creators: ‘In early July, Yasmin and I flew from Schiphol Airport to Lexington, Kentucky. In the five days we were there, we saw so much of Kentucky and really experienced American culture! In addition to visiting the AppHarvest facilities, we also visited a summer camp for children that focused on healthy and varied eating. We even made our red RocketFuel smoothie live for everyone at the closing event! We learnt and saw so much on this trip. It was a very valuable and unique journey.’

Students have their say
What happens when you involve students in a project like this right from the start? The answer: all sorts of things! Not only does it make students more aware of the importance of healthy eating, but it actually makes them change their eating patterns. Cameron, a student in the Food Product Design minor: ‘It was surprisingly difficult to design a product that tasted well and wasn't loaded with salt and sugar. That made me think of my own meals and why I like those. I started making dishes that focus more on vegetables, so less meat and bread. It's important to care about what we eat.’

In addition, students can empathise well with the target group, they are given responsibility and as a result tackle such a project with a completely different perspective and personal motivation. Annabel, Nutrition & Dietetics student explains: ‘I think the challenge is really cool because it can have quite a large reach and it's really about young people - not the government or big companies, but young people just like me. It really shocked me how little fruit young people eat. I didn't know it was that little. If we can cause even a small shift among young people, that's already great.’

Second Food Boost Challenge launched
A successful concept leaves you wanting more. That is why the second edition of the Food Boost Challenge has kicked off now. This edition focuses on promoting a sustainable and healthy diet among young people. The focus here is on hotspots they regularly frequent and where they buy or consume food outside the home. This may include schools, sports canteens, festivals and supermarkets, for example.

Want to know more? View the Food Boost Challenge project page for all the information!

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