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Sandra Auger

Food Service's Coordinator

What does one look for at Maison du Père? The first answer is obvious: a bed. But the second one is just as clear: a good hot meal. This is essential, even more than one can imagine. Because it brings someone comfort and energy to then bounce back and go further in their journey of regaining control over their life. That’s why we need a strong food service team. Sandra is the head of this team. Through our exchange with her, we discover all the challenges, and the rewards, of this essential task: to feed the men of Maison du Père.

Sandra is our organization's food service coordinator. Following studies in nursing, she obtained a technical degree in food service management. After fifteen years of experience in private catering, during which she was co-owner of 2 restaurants, she switched to food service in a childcare center. There, for 8 years, she fed the little ones.

Then Sandra was on the move again, when she felt the need to give herself a new challenge. "So I looked! Maison du Père was looking for someone. I said, ‘Ah well, that could be interesting. The position that is offered is basically management of food donations, human resources with your immediate team, and human contact with your customers' ”, which corresponded to both her areas of experience and her interests, she says, because "helping has always been part of me", she adds.

This is how she took the reins of the food service at Maison du Père. This service provides food for users, residents, volunteers and employees. The menus are created every day from precious gifts made to Maison du Père, which makes the task quite unpredictable and requires to know how to constantly improvise. She says that "this is the challenge of every day: how we can spoil the users today, how we can make them happy".

Another challenge: like any establishment with a food service, Maison du Père must respect the laws and regulations on hygiene and sanitation of the ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec, at all times. Also, since the seniors' residence is officially accredited by the government, the organization must comply with certain guidelines regarding the quality and choice of menus.


Lastly, Sandra’s team is large, which demands strong leadership qualities. It is made up of employees, volunteers, and users of Maison du Père; that is to say some regular users (since they are asked for 20 hours of work in the organization per week) and some engaged in a process of social reintegration with an assistance and social support program, the “PAAS Action”. Thus, Sandra comes much into contact with the men from the streets living at Maison du Père.

To have them open to you and listen, says Sandra, you have to treat them with respect, as equals. When you do this, confidence sets in. Often they even confide in you, which often leads them to talk about their past before homelessness. "You see there is the flame of pride in their eyes... you see that they are proud of what they’ve done before," she adds. ...and they're proud of what they do next. Many go, for example, from the CAHR (previously called “the shelter”) to PAAS Action, to a new job and a new home found with the help of Projet logement Montréal (of which Maison du Père is a trustee). They take great pride in their career, and let it be known to people around them. "That's fun to see," she says.

Being around these men also allowed her to see and better understand the roots of homelessness. She insists, “The majority are not here by choice. They had a bad time. They've lost their jobs, they separated, or they’ve been evicted from their apartment… At the end of the day, practically all of them want to find an apartment and a normal life. "

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