Woody Weingarten

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2 feed the hungry, differently, as their hearts ache

Marv Zauderer, founder of ExtraFood.org, holds items donated to his organization to help feed Marin’s hungry.

Marv Zauderer of Fairfax and Andrea Carla Michaels of San Francisco take different approaches to the hungry.

Both succeed.

Marv feeds hundreds in Marin via ExtraFood.org, an organization he founded in 2013, daily; Andrea’s been handing slices of pizza one-on-one to the homeless on San Francisco streets and alleys virtually every day since Christmas Eve 2015.

Neither’s ever gone without food — except, Marv jests, “on Yom Kippur,” a Jewish fast day — yet both feel compelled to help the helpless.

Marv, 53, who’s lived in Fairfax 18 years and is in his third career, has watched ExtraFood.org mushroom.

To the point that 200 volunteers have picked up 982,000 pounds of food and delivered it to 84 sites serving Marin’s “most vulnerable.”

That translates to 50,000 people in food pantries, homeless shelters, senior centers and after-school programs, folks “worried about where their next meal’s coming from.”

“When I’ve seen a child come to school hungry, or looked in the eyes of a homeless person at a soup kitchen, or heard from seniors having to choose between food and medication, I’ve felt so sad,” he tells me. “And then I’ve felt angry. Because I know there is enough food for all.”

Andrea Carla Michaels delivers slices of pizza to the homeless on streets and in alleyways in San Francisco.

Andrea, 57 and a longtime friend who averages “about 20 re-warmed slices a day, with the most being about 40,” has been dubbed by her recipients as “The Pizza Lady.”

Her deliveries began after seeing two Algerian Muslim eatery owners “composting a large pizza with only two slices missing because they weren’t allowed, by law, to sell them beyond four hours after they were made.”

She told them, “I’d be happy to hand it out to the hungry have-nots — the ‘NOTs’ being ‘Neighbors On The Streets.’”

Andrea, a Jew from Minneapolis, follows the “precept of tikkun olam, healing a broken world.”

Marv and Andrea certainly aren’t alone when it comes to feeding the hungry. The SF-Marin Food Bank, through its pantry network, serves hundreds and hundreds of Marin families each week, for instance.

According to Irene Garcia, 33, a pantry coordinator who lives in San Rafael, Marin residents are “missing 9 million meals a year.” She points specifically to “the Silver Tsunami that’s happening here” and says the food bank “is hoping to meet the demand of our seniors in need.”

My personal interest in the hungry dates to an Alaskan cruise several decades ago when I witnessed tons of food being dumped.

Because of liability issues.

Marv and Andrea agree that Good Samaritan laws now protect businesses.

But legal shields don’t kill suspicion.

I was in Moscow when a rabbi couldn’t give away leftover kosher food because the homeless wouldn’t trust it.

Or him.

Marv, who grew up in a Silicon Valley home “where food was central to connecting people,” says “there is so much hunger here it breaks my heart.”

Andrea’s heart aches, too.

For the one-third of her recipients who are regulars — plus “the rest who change from day to day.”

She recalls one particular dude.

“He disappeared and the others thought he’d died so they held a memorial service for him. It turns out he’d been in a hospital for two months, after literally dying — his heart stopped and he’d frozen — but been revived. Now he’s on the same corner with his friends, although none had known his last name.”

What ExtraFood.org does is recovery.

“Normally, we pick up excess food and immediately deliver it,” Marv explains. “However, many restaurants don’t have excess. So restaurants like Taqueria Mi Pueblo in San Anselmo, through our planned giving program, make us 10-20 servings to deliver.”

Marv, good-looking, gray-haired and balding, spent 20 years in the technology world, then became a psychotherapist for 14.

Andrea’s life hasn’t been as linear.

An attractive, blue-eyed, curly-haired blonde Harvard grad, she did standup comedy and wrote sitcoms in Los Angeles, taught English to foreign students, then moved to San Francisco in 1993.

A quintessential wordsmith, she’s taught Scrabble and constructed crossword puzzles for The New York Times. Solving a mystery phrase won her a motor home on “Wheel of Fortune.” She now runs a firm she began, Acme Naming, which brands products and businesses.

Laments Marv, “Forty percent of all food in this country is wasted.”

Andrea, meanwhile, recalls “a man who insisted I take a beautiful but not valuable ring. I wear it every day to remind me that I’m married to the work.”

Contact Woody Weingarten at http://vitalitypress.com/ or at voodee@sbcglobal.net.

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