Carol’s Kitchen has found a new home in Banning at Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Church on West Nicolet Street.

The official opening was held this past Tuesday and the volunteers were ready to begin serving meals again to those in need.

The Banning location will continue to serve meals from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays.

Carol’s Kitchen, which is celebrating 20 years in the San Gorgonio Pass Area, also serves meals at the James A. Venable Community Center in Cabazon and Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic Church in Beaumont.

Between the three locations and serving meals on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, Carol’s Kitchen’s Executive Director Alex Tompkins said that 60,000 meals are served annually.

Tompkins said that she believes that Banning’s number of seniors, veterans, homeless and families needing food will increase soon.

Carol’s Kitchen began at the Banning Community Center, then had to move in 2017 when their rent increased from $450 to $2,000a month. Tompkins said they couldn’t afford the increase so they moved to the Church of the Nazarene in July 2017.

That lasted until June 2018 when Pastor Cody Ellis left and the church began renting out the facility to a Spanish church.

Carol’s Kitchen was given a 30-day notice and had been without a facility for the past month until they were given a chance by Saint Kateri Church in Banning.

Since they already serve at the Beaumont site, Rev. Dennis Legaspi approved of Carol’s Kitchen having a site in Banning, too at Saint Kateri Church.

Carol’s Kitchen does not have to pay rent at either church location, Tompkins said.

The agreement became official two weeks ago.

Tompkins said that they are happy to be at Saint Kateri and although it has been a trying year, they understand the reasons behind all of this.

“It feels good,” Tompkins said. “We knew with the Church of the Nazarene they were having changes. It didn’t surprise us.”

Having a new home was exciting for Carol’s Kitchen on Tuesday, where a meal of fried chicken, orange chicken and rice, macaroni and cheese and fruit salad, along with dessert, was served to the guests.

Dale Savard, 54, of Banning, has been eating meals twice a week at Carol’s Kitchen since it opened.

His wife of 10 years, Brenda, joins him for the meals. Savard said he enjoys the food that is provided by Carol’s Kitchen.

“To me, it’s been a big blessing for everybody,” he said.

Edie Marquez, 70, of Banning, also visited the Beaumont St. Kateri site and the Banning Community Center. Her husband Jess drops her off so she can enjoy a meal twice a week there.

Buying groceries can be costly so Marquez realizes the importance of saving money by eating at Carol’s Kitchen. “In a way, it does help financially,” she said.

Michael Carrasco, 32, of Arizona, was in town this week with his wife, Salina, 33, and their five children: Miguel 12, Marcus, 10, Miles, 6, Maya 5 and Michaelangelo, 4.

Salina’s mother, Yolanda Rodriguez, was joining them for a meal at Carol’s Kitchen.

The Carrascos’ used to visit Carol’s Kitchen once a week for a year-and-a-half when they lived in Banning.

Carrasco, who works as a manager for Direct TV, said a meal like this for his whole family is a life-saver.

“It helps out a lot in between checks,” he said.

Salina is a stay-at-home mom, her husband said.

Rodriguez, who lives in Banning, said a free meal helps because the money she would spend on food can go to other necessities such as auto repair and doctor’s appointments.

Carol’s Kitchen also provides free groceries and today, that included a variety of rolls and bagels, corn, tomatoes, bags of salad, among other food items.

Tompkins said that she is looking for several more volunteers who can help with breaking down tables and other physical chores

Tompkins said that Carol’s Kitchen receives great support from the community.

One of those supporters is Top-Line Industrial Supply in Beaumont, which has been holding a car show for the past six years to benefit Carol’s Kitchen.

Sam Baldi, owner of Top-Line, said he and his son, Pasquale, met the Carol’s Kitchen board members and staff at an event and Pasquale convinced his father that this was the organization to help.

The first year, the car show had 30 entries and raised $2,000. Each year, the money has increased and this year, with 228 car entries, Top-Line raised $9,100 for Carol’s Kitchen in June.

Baldi’s goal is much higher for 2019. “We’re going to try really hard for $10,000 next year,” he said.

Staff writer Julie Farren may be reached at jfarren@recordgazette.net.

Staff Writer Julie Farren may be reached at jfarren@recordgazette.net.

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