For Napans in need, Carol Sandoval makes dinner a family affair

This story is part of the Register’s annual holiday series about people making a difference in their communities.

When Carol Sandoval first began preparing monthly meals for Napa’s least fortunate, she could not go anywhere but all-in. Eight years on, the full-time nurse and spare-time cook is keeping at her work – with family and co-workers in the same kitchen.

On the second Tuesday of each month, Sandoval, a registered nurse at Queen of the Valley Medical Center, joins co-workers in putting together and serving one of the weekday meals for about 200 people visiting The Table, which has served low-income, senior, veteran and other residents at Napa’s First Presbyterian Church for three decades.

Two weeks pass from the Vacaville resident plotting out her menu to buying ingredients to turning out the month’s dishes in the kitchen, where she is never alone.

“My sister Nicole Montana, she’s with me every step of the way; my daughter Rachel Pena volunteers at holidays,” she said in December about a list of cooking partners that has included a fellow Queen nurse, a retired Queen employee and his wife, and sometimes her niece and her husband Hilario Sandoval.

Her team had come together at 9 a.m., laboring in the kitchen until the dishes were ready to be driven to The Table for the 3 p.m. meal at the Third Street church. For the next two hours, diners at First Presbyterian tucked…

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