Evaluation of the 'Survival Guide to Food' Project summary

Funded by: Food Standards Agency in Northern Ireland


January 2012 to December 2012

PSI researchers:

Deborah Smeaton

Sandra Vegeris

Background, summary and aims


Adolescents and students can be a vulnerable group in terms of diet and nutrition as they become increasingly independent and leave home for the first time. Many find budgeting a challenge, some have minimal cooking skills and others may not have ready access to healthy food or kitchen facilities and equipment. Students therefore represent an important target group in terms of needing advice and support to eat healthily under challenging circumstances. The Survival Guide to Food aims to meet these needs through information and advice on nutrition, cooking skills, budgeting, food safety and recipe tips.

The Food Standards Agency in Northern Ireland has commissioned the Policy Studies Institute to conduct an evaluation of the students’ Survival Guide in order to better understand views of and responses to the guide and the associated marketing campaign.


The evaluation will seek to identify which aspects of the guide were most useful, whether the design and content were age appropriate, how it was used in classroom settings and whether students have changed their eating behaviour since reading the guide. Also of interest is whether students have continued to use the guide as a resource over the past year or so.

A further strand of the study is to ascertain how effective and appropriate the dissemination strategy and marketing campaign was from the perspectives of students and teachers. The marketing approach included: posters; radio advertising and social media; competitions; giveaways; a celebrity chef cook-off event; and a retail-partner incentive.

The study also seeks to gather views on how the guide and approach to marketing might be improved in the future.


In order to meet the aims and objectives set out above, the research will consist of four phases to include:

  • A short scoping survey of teachers who requested the guidance
  • Telephone interviews with teachers (30)
  • A survey of students (circa 1200)
  • Qualitative research with students – five focus groups with upper-sixth-form students and telephone interviews or an online discussion forum with those who have graduated from sixth form,