We are currently trialling some new food suppliers in our Glasgow cafes. At TCA we are focussed on building communities through climbing and wanted to work with other organisations who care about social responsibility and improving communities. Our two new suppliers not only make great food, but they have amazing stories to tell about the people they work with and the communities they represent. Let us introduce you to Soul Food Sisters and Social Bite.
Soul Food Sisters
How did Soul Food Sisters get started?
Soul Food Sisters was started in 2012, when a group of migrant women connected over food. We shared recipes from our different cultures and found a sense of community through cooking together. To begin with we were a small group, hoping to help other women who felt isolated and alone. Now we run a cafe in Glasgow’s East end, host workshops and offer an external catering service!
What kind of people do you work with?
We work with women of all ages, from all over the world. Our aim is to create a space where women feel they can foster a sense of community and we use food as a tool to do that!
How does having a multi-cultural team benefit your organisation?
At one point we can have up to five languages spoken in our busy kitchen. You have to quickly learn how to communicate using not just language! With the broad range of cultures represented come a whole range of customs and traditions. It’s exciting to learn and appreciate the history which is shared.
One thing we know is that as people, we have far more similarities than we do differences.
What kind of food do you offer?
With sisters from Algeria, Spain, Eritrea, Andorra and beyond there’s always something tasty on offer. Most of our food is vegan and at the very least vegetarian friendly. We serve up fresh hummous, stuffed flatbreads, omlettes, soup and middle eastern salads. We also make all of our own cakes in house – our almond baklava is a must try!
We heard you run events as well as catering, can you tell us about them?
Aside from running our cafe, which is open from 10-4 each Friday, Saturday and Sunday, we also run regular cooking workshops. Each workshop focuses on a unique flavour or cuisine and is led by a sister who has plenty of knowledge and expertise! Our next workshop is on December 19th and we will be making classic Lebanese dishes.
Tell us a bit about the people behind Social Bite and how it got started?
Social Bite was started by Alice Thompson and Josh Littlejohn. Alice and Josh met Prof. Yunus in 2011 when Josh started reading his book “Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism”. In his book Yunus describes the idea of a ‘Social Business’, where he was creating businesses, but not for the traditional purpose of making money, but for solving social challenges. Josh and Alice became so inspired by this idea that they decided to fly to Bangladesh to meet with Yunus.
They saw the various social businesses that Prof Yunus had created first hand. They visited businesses that Yunus has set up that tackled social problems such as the financial exclusion of poor women, malnutrition of children and blindness of the poor. The efforts of this one man were literally changing the lives of tens of millions of people in his native Bangladesh. The experience Josh and Alice had in Bangladesh was life-changing. They returned so inspired by Yunus’ vision of a broader economic system, where business could be about so much more than maximising profits, that they decided to sell their events business and risk everything they had to set up a social business. Social Bite was born. We now have a sandwich shops in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen and a restaurant in Edinburgh called Vesta.
What kind of food do you offer?
We hand-make our own sandwiches, wraps, salad boxes and hot meals at our production kitchen in Livingston; where our Head Chef – Richard Leece – creates delicious healthy menus to satisfy every palette. We have delicious options for vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free and all our meat is Halal.
In our new menu for January 2020, you can expect to find treats such as Crayfish, Seafood Sauce on Malted Grain, Turkey, Smashed Avocado on Sourdough, Goats Cheese, Sunblush Tomato & Olives, Malted Grain (V) and Applewood Smoked Cheddar, Piccalilli on Sourdough (V).
Who benefits from this enterprise?
There are a number of beneficiaries: the public receives great food and we provide employment opportunities – with a third of our workforce coming from a homeless and/or disadvantaged background.
We distribute over 140,000 items of food and hot drinks every year to Scotland’s most vulnerable people. People in a situation of homelessness and food poverty are invited into our chain of sandwich shops to enjoy our handmade food and tasty coffee throughout the day. We also open up our shops in the evenings for a series of weekly “Social Suppers” events, including “Women’s only” nights and nights for refugees. Our restaurant, Vesta opens exclusively to people experiencing homelessness every Monday for a free sit-down 2-course meal.
Christmas Dinners & Presents: Every year we open up our shops on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day for people in a situation of homelessness and food poverty to come and get a Christmas meal and some loving company. You can support this work by donating £5 at itison.
We heard you have had some celebrity visitors over the years…
We’ve been blessed to have received a lot of goodwill and support from celebrities such as John Cleese, Fred MacAulay, George Clooney, Leonardo diCaprio and Prince Harry & Meghan. Many others have supported us in less pubic ways too and we’re eternally grateful for all their contributions of time and energy and especially for raising our public profile to gain more support for our mission to end homelessness in Scotland.
Are there other ways our climbers can support your charity?
You can join in our annual ‘Sleep in the Park’ events, buy our produce or volunteer and of course, donations are always hugely appreciated. This year, we’ll buy presents for homeless children and families ranging from toys for children, warm clothes and sanitary and beauty products. These are being distributed to a range of night shelters, refuges and temporary accommodation in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee. Find out more on the Social Bite website.
Any additional funds raised will go towards Social Bite feeding homeless people every day throughout the year in 3 cities, as well as our housing programs including The Social Bite Village.
Let us know what you think
We want to provide food that you will want to eat. So let us know what you think. Talk to staff in centres, post on social or email Sophie.
Don’t forget you get 10% off cafe purchases if you are a pass holder. Follow this link to buy a pass online.