by Janet Alexander
One of the most affluent counties in the entire country, Marin is most often exalted as a place of abundance and prosperity. But outside the pages of luxury lifestyle magazines there exists more than 30,000 residents who are without a daily meal.
Lifelong Bay Area resident Marv Zauderer has never been a part of this cohort, but nonetheless “the hunger thing was nagging me,” he says. A misperception about Marin, he says, is that “people are too busy to be of service.”ne of the most affluent counties in the entire country, Marin is most often exalted as a place of abundance and prosperity. But outside the pages of luxury lifestyle magazines there exists more than 30,000 residents who are without a daily meal.
Last December Zauderer decided to challenge preconceived notions, and founded ExtraFood, a nonprofit organization that “rescues” food from being wasted. With the slogan, “Helping to end hunger in Marin,” the mission of ExtraFood is to help end hunger and food waste in Marin County by 2025. From 2008 to 2011, the number of low-income residents in Marin grew by 54 percent, including a 60 percent increase—from 12,000 to 20,000—among those aged 60 and over, who are living under the poverty level.
“There are so many problems that clamor for attention, but hunger and food waste in Marin are solvable problems,” Zauderer says. ExtraFood serves as a pickup and delivery service—collecting excess fresh prepared and ready-to-eat food from any commercial food organization, business or purveyor in Marin, and then immediately transporting it to a variety of nonprofit groups across the county that feed the hungry. To date, ExtraFood has saved over 126,082 pounds of fresh food and delivered to 42 nonprofits in over 1,700 food trips to serve Marin’s most vulnerable residents.
“We want to help these nonprofits feed more people, feed people more and give people more complete and healthy meals,” Zauderer says.
And to this end, ExtraFood sources from groceries, such as WholeFoods and Andronico’s, and restaurants that include Chipotle and Mi Pueblo in San Anselmo. ExtraFood is driven by the demand from nonprofits that determine what kind of food is desired, when it is best to receive food deliveries, as well as how much food is needed. In effect, ExtraFood is not only reducing food waste and hunger, but also drastically minimizing the food expenses for nonprofits. By aiding the need to feed, Zauderer adds, “We’re helping these nonprofit recipient agencies put their money into their other critically needed services.”
ExtraFood also has an environmental impact, since every 100 pounds of food waste creates 8.3 pounds of methane—21 times worse for the atmosphere than carbon dioxide—that partially composes the greenhouse gases responsible for global warming.
ExtraFood is more than just a philanthropic pet project for Zauderer. Tracing back to his Jewish mother’s cooking, he explains, “I grew up with a profound sense of how food connects us all.” Born to immigrant parents—a Canadian mother and an Austrian father—Zauderer was raised in the traditions of Judaism, namely Tikkun Olam, meaning “repairing the world.” The idea of being of service was central to his upbringing, and subsequently, he credits his parents’ Judaic values for his entire professional life, which both surprisingly and not so surprisingly, began in high-tech.
“I grew up in Silicon Valley, so it’s in your DNA to go into tech,” he says. After first working for Hewlett-Packard at the age of 15, Zauderer joined Apple’s evangelism group, where he focused on using technology for teaching and learning.
“I wanted to help people, so I went into the business’ educational applications,” he says.
During his late 20s, Zauderer underwent a dramatic career shift, inspired by the death of his first wife.
“I went into therapy for the first time and after a few years,” he says. “I wanted to give back to people who were going through the loss of a loved one.”
He became a volunteer grief counselor through a Palo Alto program, Kara, which he describes as “life-changing.” Already an undergraduate of Cal and with a postgraduate degree from Stanford, Zauderer enrolled in Dominican University for another graduate degree to become a licensed psychotherapist. Next year will mark the end of his 13-year private practice, as he transitions to a full-time position running ExtraFood.
“It’s a gut feeling—no pun intended,” Zauderer says in a matter-of-fact tone. “Hunger breaks my heart.”
Presently, ExtraFood consists of dedicated volunteers and a four-person board of directors—among them the owner of Insalata’s and Marinitas restaurants, Heidi Insalata Krahling. Zauderer describes his trusted group of board members as, “Professionals who are very focused on bringing the same kind of discipline and rigor that one brings to operating a successful business to operating our own nonprofit.”
Notwithstanding, ExtraFood is also a flexible operation that makes it easy for anyone to make a measurable difference that fits with busy schedules. You can sign up online to choose what food trips you’d like to make, and there’s no minimum commitment for volunteers.
Ultimately, Zauderer’s nomination for the Pacific Sun’s Heroes of Marin award in the category of Innovation is based on how he has drawn from his previous career in high-tech and his second career as a licensed therapist, to innovate a solution to address the issue of hunger in Marin.
- Zauderer has been living in West Marin for the past 15 years.
- He is an avid cyclist and takes full advantage of Marin’s natural environment, riding his bike on Mt. Tamalpais—both on and off-road.
- Zauderer has also participated in cycling races and coached cycling teams, and even wrote a column about the mental effects of cycling for PEZ, a cycling news magazine.
- He’s a proud Rodef Sholom congregant.