Social Bite Café to open at New College

The School of Divinity’s historic refectory, the Rainy Hall, is opening its kitchen doors to a dynamic enterprise that’s as well known for its social conscience as its soup and sandwiches.

Selection of Social Bite fare - panini, muffins and a baked potato

Social Bite will open to University of Edinburgh students and staff, 9 September 2019, for the sale of sandwiches, wraps, salads, hot food, sweet treats and more, with any profits going to help people affected by homelessness.

Famous for organising mass high-profile fundraising sleep outs, Social Bite already runs a successful chain of sandwich shops, a restaurant and food delivery service. Since the organisation first opened its doors in 2012, the proceeds have been used to feed, support, house and provide employment opportunities for people in Edinburgh who do not have a safe place to call home.

The Social Bite Café at Rainy Hall will be the first Social Bite café in a university.

Social Bite's Grab & Go range of sandwiches, salads and wraps will be delivered fresh daily, from Social Bite's Central Kitchen, while hot food will be prepared in the School’s professional, state-of-the-art kitchen. Students and staff will be served in the adjoining Rainy Hall, an impressive, recently refurbished, 119-year-old, gothic-revival styled refectory.

The Café will operate within teaching hours 8am-4pm, Monday-Friday at New College, Mound Place, on a trial basis until April 2021.

Strong links

The University of Edinburgh already has strong links with Social Bite. Last year it contributed to a donation fund that gave 2,000 places for students and staff to support their big fundraising sleep out. In 2017 the organisation’s co-founder, Joshua Littlejohn was awarded an Honorary degree for his work with the charity.

Professor Helen Bond, Head of the School of Divinity at New College, University of Edinburgh, says:

 “We were keen to find a social enterprise to run our café and Social Bite were very enthusiastic. We hope they will be more than just the suppliers for our morning coffee. With their social agenda and important work tackling homelessness, there will be a number of opportunities for students and staff to get involved in the work of Social Bite through fundraising or volunteering.”

Any staff or students who are able to spend a bit extra will have the opportunity to ‘pay forward’ for hot drinks or meals for people experiencing homelessness or food poverty, contributing towards the 140,000 items of healthy free food donated through Social Bite each year.

“As well as the café, Social Bite will cater for all the big School events we traditionally hold in Rainy Hall, such as Burns Supper and graduation, as well as conferences,” adds Professor Bond.

Delicious, healthy food and a mission to end homelessness

Social Bite co-founder Alice Thompson, smiling to camera
Social Bite co-founder Alice Thompson

Social Bite’s co-founder, Alice Thompson, said: 

“Social Bite is excited to have a café in such a beautiful and unique venue as the Rainy Hall and to strengthen our bond with University of Edinburgh.

“We are extremely pleased the University has provided this opportunity for more of its students and staff to be directly involved in our mission to end homelessness in Scotland and our staff in turn will be delighted to offer them our wonderful selection of delicious, healthy food.”


Social Bite

Social Bite sample menu

Rainy Hall, New College on Campus maps

The University and Sleep in the Park 2019

University news 2018 Sleep out beats fundraising goals

University news 2017 Sleep out makes big impact

University news Honorary degrees 2107

Principal to join homeless charity event 2016

Social Responsibility at the University of Edinburgh