Hey Ms. Carol, what’s cooking?



Carol Jones points to the M.O.R.E Foundation sign on the corner of Chestnut Street and 34th Street in West Oakland, on Saturday, March 14.

Shannon Stroud,
Metro Editor

Carol Jones sits on the corner of 34th Street and Chestnut Street in West Oakland, dressed in her black funeral attire. “Ms. Carol, you cooking today?” yells a man walking across the street, and Jones yells back, “No honey, not today. Come back Monday, I’ll feed you!”

As a West Oakland native, Jones saw many families who lost loved ones unexpectedly to violent crimes and weren’t able to raise the funds quick enough to have a proper burial. According to the FBI’s most recent crime report there were 3,260 reported violent crimes and 39 reported murders in Oakland in 2014.

Jones has sold food and clothing for the last three years in a vacant lot, owned and donated by the Morning Star Baptist Church. She helps victims of violent crimes or families with low income through fundraisers on a person-to-person basis to cover anything from flowers, to funeral home fees, and pastoral rates.

Sometimes the need is greater than what I can fundraise for. In those cases, I help the family with what I can out of pocket”

— Carol Jones

It’s only when families come to her for help that she begins to gather her supplies to start cooking and selling clothes. According to Bay Area Mortuary, a basic funeral that includes the casket, embalming, body preparation, funeral service and viewing, can cost anywhere from $2,800 to $4,800 and the minimum price for cremation is $895.

“Every time I cook, I can pull in anywhere from zero dollars to 100 hundred dollars, on a really good day I can get anywhere from 300 to 400 dollars,” Jones said.

The money she makes goes back to the families and a portion of the income goes to buying the supplies and food that she needs to cook. Jones explains that supplies can cost her around $300-$400 dollars depending on how many days that she plans to cook for.

“Sometimes the need is greater than what I can fundraise for. In those cases, I help the family with what I can out of pocket,” she said.
Jones first began helping the community in 1997. It wasn’t until eight years ago, in 2007, that she put a name on her efforts: The M.O.R.E Foundation. The M.O.R.E Foundation stands for meditate, observe, receive and endure, all, which come from different Psalms scriptures in the Bible.

Jones’ foundation is not registered with the state of California, but she has applied for a non-profit license and waits for approval from the California Attorney General. Although she isn’t registered she recently partnered with the registered foundation California Prostitutes Education Project, CALPEP, who has helped her find larger donations.

The M.O.R.E Foundation is Jones primary job and throughout the years she has made connections that help families cut costs on funerals. Jones explains that if the families want to have their services at a church, the North Oakland Baptist Church offers their building for viewing service, free of charge, as a way to give back to the community.

When a family comes to her for help Jones lets the community know she needs to raise money by making posters, emailing friends and family from church and by spreading the news through word of mouth.

Jones’ services go beyond just helping people with funerals and funding, she explains that she also mentors the youth, feeds the hungry and helps clothe people who need it.

In February, Jones was a part of a march to help bring awareness to violent black on black crimes. After, 39-year-old Maurice Summerfield, who was a regular at Jones’ barbeque lot, was killed in a hit and run just a few blocks away.

“I helped raise money for Maurice right when I got the call. He was a good man, and always bought a plate from me. A few days after I started fundraising and the man who was driving the car that killed Maurice told me what he had done, and how sorry they were,” said Jones.

Jones explained that the hit and run driver was a parolee and told Jones that he was too afraid to stay and help Summerfield. Jones advised that the driver turn himself in. After the talk with Jones he turned himself into the authorities that same day and while he waits for his trial Jones helped him find a job at CalTrain.

“When I wake up in the morning I still have my two sons, and many people don’t. I’m trying to be a community leader. They look at me and know me as Ms. Carol, Ms. Carol who helps,” said Jones.

Jones has kept a record of all the people that she has helped for the day she becomes a certified foundation for tax purposes. Jones has helped 520 families with funerals and finances over the last 18 years, according to her personal records.