SwperBox becomes the latest Peas Please pledger in the UK

SwperBox CIC – Wales’ first recipe subscription service – is the latest company to sign up to become a Peas Please pledger in the UK.

Peas Please is a UK-wide initiative that has a very clear mission: to make it easier for everyone in the UK to eat more veg. Food Sense Wales leads on the Peas Please work in Wales and engages with people across the food system to help implement a shift in diet and to address our stagnating vegetable consumption.

Focusing specifically on veg, Peas Please brings together farmers, suppliers, retailers, restaurant chains, caterers, processors and government departments with a common goal of making it easier for everyone to eat veg. These businesses and organisations then promise to play their part to help everyone in Britain eat an extra portion of veg a day and Food Sense Wales is delighted to welcome SwperBox as it becomes Peas Please’s newest pledger – both in Wales and the UK.

Carmarthenshire-based SwperBox is a recipe box subscription service and the first in the UK to operate as a Community Interest Company.

Set up by two Welsh Chefs who were made redundant during the first lockdown a year ago, SwperBox is a pioneering social enterprise that has a clear and ambitious strategy to create sustainable jobs and support the regeneration of local Welsh communities.

“When Covid struck, we knew we had to do something to create jobs, we just didn’t know what,” says Alex Cook, co-founder of SwperBox. “Then we discovered – as a lot of people did at that time – that many householder were ordering home-delivered recipe boxes, and quite honestly thought we could do better. Better ingredients, better recipes and tastier food – and at the same time, supporting our local economy, sustainable farming and community regeneration.

“The challenges ahead of us all are great,” continues Alex Cook. “We know there will be people in our communities who need sustainable jobs, training and food education; we know that people are finding it hard to access to fresh, nutritious and healthy food; we know that we all want to support Welsh Fishing, Farming and Sustainable Agriculture and we know that we need to rebuild our nation for a Healthier, Wealthier and Greener Wales. That’s why SwperBox was created.”

SwperBox’s Peas Please pledge focuses on ensuring that every single recipe box it distributes contains a minimum of 160g of fresh veg per person, which is 2 of the recommended 5 portions a day. Many of its recipes will include more.

SwperBox has also pledged to run free workshops within its local community, both online and in person, to give people the knowledge and skills they need to help them to eat more veg. The company is working on developing educational recipe boxes that will be distributed across six food banks in Carmarthenshire too.

“SwperBox aims to improve healthy eating practices through the delivery of recipe boxes containing a minimum of 2 of our 5 a day,” says Alex Cook. “By running free community workshops and developing recipe kits to empower people and provide them with the cooking skills needed – while at the same time, helping to increase people’s nutritional knowledge – we hope to encourage people to eat more veg. We’re also working to influence public sector bodies in Carmarthenshire to improve their meal options to also include more veg.”

As well as becoming a Peas Please pledger, Alex has also signed up to become a Peas Please Veg Advocate, helping to drive the enormous changes needed to get everyone eating more veg. Through the Veg Advocates programme, Peas Please engages with people’s personal experiences of the food system as a whole, feeding back on what’s been done to date and advising on what needs to happen next to get the nation eating more veg.

Alex is also advising Carmarthenshire’s Public Services Board as it looks at ways of developing its public sector food procurement arrangements. Funded by the Welsh Government Foundational Economy Challenge Fund, this county-wide procurement project aims to challenge the way the public sector procures its food supplies whilst also considering the local food supply chain and future development opportunities.

“Working in collaboration with local authority, SwperBox is currently helping to identify and deliver on opportunities to increase veg consumption through the public plate,” adds Alex. “We’re engaging with Schools, Hospitals and Care Home stakeholders to educate them on the importance of eating more veg.”

Katie Palmer, Programme Manager at Food Sense Wales is delighted to welcome Alex and SwperBox into the Peas Please programme.

“We’re really pleased that SwperBox has decided to join the Peas Please programme. Peas Please shows that if all actors and agents across the Food Sector work together, we can achieve a shift in people’s habits, throughout the food system, and have a positive impact on people’s health.

“Our diets are leading to high levels of obesity, type 2 diabetes and other diet-related disease – and we all need to eat more veg,” adds Katie. “Peas Please explores the levers along the supply chain which have the potential to increase vegetable consumption in a sustainable manner. We recognise that in order to support consumers to make healthier choices, we need to see changes across our food system.

“Food Sense Wales is really looking forward to working with SwperBox – both as a pledger and with Alex in his role as a Veg Advocate in Wales – to champion the work of the Peas Please initiative and to help drive that change,” adds Katie. “Recruiting more pledgers means that we can build on already established relationships helping to benefit not only people’s health but the environment too.”

Having only been set-up during the lockdown of March 2020, SwperBox CIC has already been shortlisted in the Welsh Start-Up Awards for Social Enterprise of the Year. The company is now delivering recipe boxes across South West Wales and is looking forward to seeing the company grow and develop whilst also helping to increase vegetable consumption for both its customers and for those benefiting from its educational programmes.

Alex adds: “Through all of SwperBox’s work – from the recipe subscription boxes; our educational programmes and our work with the local authority – we feel that becoming a Peas Please pledger, as well as signing up to become a Veg Advocate, will help reiterate the importance of increasing veg consumption with both members of the public and with those making decisions about the public plate.”

For further information about SwperBox, please visit the company’s website.