News Bridging the Gap

Getting organic Welsh veg into primary school meals in Wales

Bridging the Gap pilot project in Wales aims to get more organically produced Welsh veg into primary school meals across Wales.

Food Sense Wales is co-ordinating a project that aims to get more organically produced Welsh veg into primary school meals across Wales.

Working with partners that include Castell Howell, Farming Connect Horticulture as well as a host of enthusiastic growers, the Welsh Veg in Schools project is helping to get more locally produced organic vegetables into school lunches.  

Welsh Veg in Schools is about redesigning supply chains to make them fairer and more resilient. It also builds on the commitment from Welsh Government to ensure that every primary aged child in Wales is offered a free school meal and that the food used to produce that meal, where possible, comes from local suppliers. With only around a quarter of a portion of veg per head of population being currently produced in Wales, Welsh Veg in Schools has the potential to increase the market in order to help realise this commitment.

Food Sense Wales first started exploring the procurement of locally produced veg with the ‘Courgette Pilot’ – a pilot project that involved one grower and one wholesaler and delivered nearly 1 tonne of courgettes into primary schools in Cardiff during Food and Fun in the summer of 2022. The courgette pilot was facilitated by Food Cardiff, the capital’s local food partnership, helping to bring all the partners together, including Blas Gwent, Cardiff Council Education Catering and Cardiff & Vale University Health Board public health dietetics as well as Castell Howell.

In 2023, with the support of the Welsh Government’s Backing Local Firms Fund, this procurement project developed into the first phase of Welsh Veg in Schools working with three growers across three local authority areas and supported by co-ordinators from the local food partnerships in Cardiff, Carmarthenshire and Monmouthshire.  

Now, in the Spring of 2024, Food Sense Wales has been awarded additional funding from Bridging The Gap, led by Sustain, to further scale up the work and leverage an even wider network of expertise and support. This phase of action research will work with more growers and local authorities; explore how to bridge the gap between the costs of conventional product and sustainably produced Welsh veg; and test a number of approaches to establish what a ‘sustainable investment scheme’ could look like. The aim is to develop a model that is expandable across the Welsh public sector. 

By supporting agroecological organic farming, this project is giving growers and farmers a new or alternative key income stream as well as offering opportunities for children to connect with nature and farming through visiting local growers. 

“At its heart, Welsh Veg in Schools is about getting sustainably produced, local veg into schools to nourish children via their school meals – the more progress we make, the more benefit we can deliver to them,” says Katie Palmer, who heads up Food Sense Wales.

“We aren’t producing enough veg in Wales and we need to be building our own supply base bringing benefit to local communities and reducing our reliance on imports through connecting local growers with local wholesalers and fostering relationships that help businesses flourish."

Edward Morgan from Castell Howell adds:

“As intermediaries in the supply chain, delivering to some 1000 schools across Wales, we recognise the importance of restructuring the way food is sourced. Working in collaboration with likeminded stakeholders, enthusiastic farmers, growers and committed customers is critical to achieve our shared ambitions, not only delivering Welsh grown veg, but delivering information and discussing risk and opportunities with a high level of transparency. We’re proud to be a part of an initiative that has evolved from supplying a tonne of courgettes in 2022 and look forward to seeing this continue to develop to something substantial.”

Hannah Gibbs from Bridging The Gap is also excited to be supporting Welsh Veg in Schools. “We’re delighted to be supporting this pilot to further develop and build out its evidence base for how we can ensure we get more locally produced sustainable fruit and vegetables into public food supply chains. This fantastic partnership also offers us great opportunities for shared learning across Bridging the Gap’s other schools’ pilots in Scotland and England.”

  • Find out more about Bridging the Gap: 
  • Find out more about Food Sense Wales: 

Published Tuesday 7 May 2024

Bridging the Gap: Bridging the Gap to climate and nature friendly food for all.

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