ExtraFood aims to feed Marin’s hungry, reduce waste

From “head to heart to hands” — that’s how Marv Zauderer describes the evolution of his career choices.

Now the founder and executive director of a nonprofit that’s working to end hunger and food waste in Marin County, Zauderer spent many years in the technology field and 15 years working as a psychotherapist before founding ExtraFood in December 2013.

“In this stage of my life, I want to be in the trenches, getting stuff done,” said Zauderer, 51, a member of Congregation Rodef Sholom in San Rafael.   “Hunger breaks my heart. I realized that, in contrast to so many of the problems that we face, hunger and food waste are solvable problems, and I wanted to take them on.”

ExtraFood founder Marv Zauderer collects perishables at Andronico’s in San Anselmo. photos/courtesy extrafood

Some 100 ExtraFood volunteers collect prepared food, fresh produce, dairy, eggs, meat, packaged goods and baked goods from groceries, restaurants, bakeries, farmers markets and caterers. Then they make deliveries to 51 nonprofit agencies that serve the 40,000 people in Marin County who, according to census records, do not have a secure food supply.

“Since we began, our volunteers have made more than 2,700 pick-up and delivery trips and recovered more than 191,382 pounds of fresh food,” Zauderer said (the last figure is an estimate based on reports from volunteers). “Our goal is to feed more people and to feed people more.”

Zauderer and his wife, Ilene, have three grown children and live in Marin. Jewish values play a large role in his work and life.

While studying computer science at U.C. Berkeley, he lived in the Berkeley Bayit co-op. Zauderer met his wife at a family camp weekend at Camp Tawonga, where they later sent their children to summer camp.

Rodef Sholom, he noted, “has been marvelous at publicizing ExtraFood, spreading the word among members and beyond and also donating food regularly.”

When Zauderer first decided to focus on hunger in Marin, he brainstormed with Paul Ash, executive director of the SF-Marin Food Bank. Then Zauderer met with Mary Risley, the founder of Food Runners San Francisco, which picks up perishable and prepared foods from businesses and delivers it to neighborhood food programs.

Since ExtraFood was founded, the Marin Farmers Market has served as a provider. The market operates two days a week at the Marin County Civic Center in San Rafael; the Sunday market draws approximately 200 vendors, and 70 take part in the Thursday market. Vendors donate everything from oranges to kale to bread.

Volunteers Ellen McKenna (left) and Lynne Simon meet up at the Marin Farmers Market.

Nick Davantes, manager of the Sunday market, said, “ExtraFood is a great organization to be linked with. Volunteers drop off boxes toward the end of the market and then pick them up for distribution. It could not be easier.”

In the past, he said, “most of the time the farmers used whatever they didn’t sell for compost. Now they love giving it to people who need it.”

The Marin City Community Services District, which serves the unincorporated southern Marin community of Marin City, takes deliveries from ExtraFood twice a week — one of prepared food and one of fresh produce.

Domenica Giovannini, the policy and communications analyst at the agency, said, “We have 90 kids, ages 5 to 18, in our afterschool programs. We feed them the prepared food for dinner. The raw food is used for our cooking classes, and then the kids take home more of the raw food to prepare it there.”

Zauderer said that in addition to feeding people, the work of ExtraFood helps nonprofits reduce their food budgets and frees up money for other programs. In addition, the program reduces waste and therefore the impact of food waste in landfills.

“It’s the ethical thing to do,” Zauderer said. “And now we have a circle of sharing in Marin County that will outlive all of us.”

For more information on ExtraFood or to volunteer, call (415) 997-9830 or visit www.extrafood.org.

Patricia Corrigan

Patricia Corrigan is a longtime newspaper reporter, book author and freelance writer based in San Francisco.