by Jennifer Mistrot and Allen Martin
SAN ANSELMO (CBS SF) — When the shelter-in-splace order hit, two former Jefferson Award winners didn’t shut down their community service efforts. Instead, both stepped up their service, not by changing ‘what’ they do but ‘how’ they do it. And in the process, both have provided crucial meals to those who would very likely go hungry.
For one of these past winners, Heidi Krahling, that service is food; specifically high quality dishes crafted in the kitchen of her restaurant Insalata’s in San Anselmo. When the shelter-in-place orders closed Insalata’s down, Krahling decided she would keep on cooking. Now she and other staff members are preparing and packing meals, then giving those meals away for free.
“There’s this level of knowing I can do something,” explained Krahling. “And our staff can do something.”
Krahling’s have teamed up to deliver the free meals with ExtraFood.org a Marin County non-profit that provides food to many of the county’s most vulnerable residents, such as low income seniors, students, and the unemployed. ExtraFood.org founder, and past Jefferson Award winner Marv Zauderer says Insalata’s is now providing 150 meals a day to ExtraFood.org.
Krahling and Zauderer started their food partnership six years ago, with Krahling and her staff cooking meals weekly for ExtraFood. But with the COVID-19 pandemic, the longtime friends and collaborators saw an opportunity to increase Insalata’s meal contribution at a time when it’s needed the most.
“During a time that is so scary…[these meals are] not only filling … bellies, but … people feel cared for,” said Zauderer. “The generosity [of Insalata’s and others] during this time has been nothing short of amazing.”
To fund their efforts, Krahling started an Insalata’s GoFundMe campaign, which has raised more than 83,000 dollars as of Friday afternoon – funds that will serve two purposes. First, it will help Krahling pay employees’ salaries while the restaurant is dark. Secondly, the money will help pay for the bulk of the ingredients for the prepared meals.
LEARN MORE: Jefferson Awards for Public Service
Krahling and her husband are covering the restaurant’s operating costs using food they have on hand. ExtraFood is contributing for the meals as well. Krahling says all the food from different sources has made preparing the meals a fun challenge, and one her staff does with pride.
“It’s been a learning curve,” said Krahling. “It’s been an emotional, you know, high for all of us, because we can, we are privileged to do something.”
ExtraFood picks up the meals from Insalata’s and delivers them to its other partners like Whistlestop, which serves people with disabilities and the elderly in San Rafael.
“We’ve gotten great feedback. People calling the same day,” said Whistlestop Chief Operating Officer Nancy Geisse. “They receive them saying, ‘Oh my God, it was so fresh.'”
The “Fuel The Community Project” officially started April 4th, and the goal is to make daily meals for two months.