Spreading Love With Lasagna

Lasagna Love offers comfort to many.

A smiling young girl is holding a plate of lasagna.

(photostar72 / Shutterstock.com)

Lasagna is the ultimate comfort food. Hot, nourishing, and delicious, this Italian dish wins hearts and spreads love every time. So when Rhianna Menn wanted to offer comfort and love to those in need, she started a nonprofit called Lasagna Love. Now two years old, this organization has touched the hearts and warmed the tummies of over 850,000 people.

Menn realized that when she took care of herself, it gave her strength to help others. She applied this wisdom during the pandemic, offering nourishment by delivering home-cooked lasagnas. Seeing that the pandemic was causing feelings of loneliness among many, Menn took her idea a notch higher, offering an online platform to connect volunteer “chefs” with those in need.

Local lasagna mommas and pappas
Receiving a meal cooked with love could not be easier, as shown on the organization’s Facebook page. After filling in an online form, people are connected with a local lasagna “momma” or “pappa.” They coordinate a date and time for delivery, receive their meal, and sign up again.

Celebrating their two-year anniversary this past March, this organization is spreading the love. They have some 30,000 volunteers who have fed over 850,000 people in three countries. Their concept is so popular, they are now delivering lasagna in 50 states of the US, according to InForum.

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Wendy Allen, a regional leader with Lasagna Love from North Dakota, explained that for volunteers it is about delivering love, not simply food. She has delivered food to stressed and overworked teachers, people with sick family members, and those going through cancer treatments.

Mother and son team Michele and Joseph Puco, volunteers in Florida, spoke to MSN about their love for this volunteer work. “To show up with food and love in your heart, the reaction you get from people, it brings you to tears,” said Michele Puco. “I get excited because I know the work I'm putting in for someone else,” explained her son Joseph. “They get to enjoy what I’m making and that excites me.”

The power of paying it forward
Aside from delivering love, this network demonstrates the power of paying-it-forward. A recent poll shows that these acts inspire the receivers to contribute, according to Digital Journal. Some 98 percent of those who received lasagna are inspired to pay it forward, while 21 percent said they would do so within a few days. Many wanted to bring a meal or donate food to another struggling family.

We are inspiring pay it forward acts of kindness across communities and increasing feelings of connectedness and support among neighbors,” Menn told Digital Journal.

Aside from receiving a delicious home-cooked meal, it is important for people to feel an affiliation with others. “Humans strive to be connected, and that connectivity is a gift,” explained Menn.

Lasagna Love is a simple idea, yet just like the dish itself, it is multi-layered. The three principles, according to Digital Journal, are to feed families, strengthen communities, and spread kindness. Volunteers who cook as well as those deliver and receive the meals feel positivity and kindness. And just like the sauce on top of the lasagna, they generously spread this feeling.

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