By Emma Castleberry
Few things can warm the heart as much as a homemade meal. This is the ethos behind Lasagna Love, a nationwide movement that connects neighbors with neighbors through homemade meal delivery. The organization began taking shape in March 2020 when blogger and mother Rhiannon Menn offered to deliver a homemade lasagna to any of her neighbors that needed a break from pandemic-related stress. Now, the organization has delivered more than 80,000 meals nationwide with chapters in all 50 states.
Kim De and Stacey Conley, who are now co-leaders of Lasagna Love of Western North Carolina, joined the organization as volunteers when they learned about it on Facebook. “We noticed we weren’t receiving a family to cook for each week,” says De. “The leader for our region, at that time, lived in Raleigh, and we realized we needed someone local if we were going to reach the families that needed us, so we volunteered. Our main goal each week is to get the word out to local people that Lasagna Love is available to provide a hot meal to help them with whatever they are going through, no questions asked.”
Unlike other nonprofits, Lasagna Love provides meals not just to those with food insecurity issues but to people facing other struggles, like a child in the hospital, or the challenges of home-schooling and working from home, or just a single person who is tired from working three jobs. The organization doesn’t require any proof of need. In her work for the state of North Carolina as a case investigator over the past six months, Julie Wild has encountered many folks who are food insecure, which inspired her to volunteer with Lasagna Love as a chef. “My favorite part about Lasagna Love is that no questions are asked, there are no requirements and it is performed judgement-free,” she says. “The world needs more action without judgment. My kids come with me to do drop-offs because it is important for our children to understand the significance of serving your neighbors. So, it helps my family as much as it helps others.”
The local aspect is an important component of Lasagna Love’s mission. “Our volunteers have a chance to do something personal for someone in the community, in the form of a meal, and to deliver it directly to their door,” says De. “Contactless delivery has been necessary during the pandemic and is still part of who we are, but volunteers have shared stories of standing in the yard to talk with their recipient, or of lovely texts after the delivery, thanking them for the help.”
Lasagna Chef Mary McClear heard about the organization on Good Morning America and was pleased to learn her region had a chapter. She recently delivered dinner to a family of eight who had lost everything they owned, including their pets, in a house fire. When she delivered the meal, complete with garlic bread, a salad and fresh strawberries, she chatted with the mother of the family and learned about some of their other needs. McClear shared the family’s list with her church group and many people have donated to help the family get back on their feet. “It’s important to love our neighbors—all neighbors,” says McClear. “The best way to love is to tangibly meet their needs, and Lasagna Love is an outlet for doing that.”
To learn more, volunteer, or request a meal, visit LasagnaLove.org.