There’s nothing like the comfort of a home cooked meal – especially when you need it the most. But due to the pandemic, stay-at-home orders prevented many families from getting together with loved ones. Enter Lasagna Love, a nonprofit formed in response to COVID-19.
The all-volunteer run program abides by three simple principles — feed families, spread kindness and strengthen communities. Founded by a mom in California in support of moms, Lasagna Love, provides meals for families who have fallen on hard times nationwide.
“Our authentic mission is not only to help address the rise in food insecurity among families, but to also provide a simple act of love and kindness during a time of uncertainty and stress,” says Alyssa Jefferies, Chicagoland outreach leader and board member of Lasagna Love. “We accomplish this by creating an easy and accessible way for every person to help a neighbor in need in a way that is comfortable and meaningful for them.”
How Lasagna Love Works
The concept couldn’t be simpler: To nominate a friend or request a lasagna for yourself, fill out a short form noting family size and dietary restrictions. The organization pairs you with one of 450 volunteers in Chicagoland (dubbed Lasagna Mamas and Lasagna Papas) based on your location. Within days, a homemade lasagna arrives at your doorstep. To date, nearly 2,000 bubbling hot pans of lasagna have been delivered across Chicagoland.
“This is the perfect way to spread kindness to your neighbors during a time of need,
says Jefferies. “We have provided lasagnas to teachers, health care workers, nursing homes and just about everyone in between.”
Jefferies, who has made about 30 pans of lasagna herself, says Lasagna Love provides a base recipe but volunteers can alter it however they’d like (it can be vegetarian, meat based or allergy friendly). Lasagna Mamas and Papas adhere to COVID-19 protocols when cooking, including wearing a mask and gloves. Deliveries are all contactless.
How You Can Help
In a time where family volunteering opportunities are few and far between, Lasagna Love provides a great at-home volunteer project that allows parents and kids to work together on a meal that can brighten someone’s day.
“Kids seem to grasp the importance of food, so I think it’s a simple concept of giving back in a way they can understand,” says Jefferies, whose four-year-old son Jake and three-year-old daughter Izzy love to help layer the sauce and noodles and sprinkle the cheese on top.
Jefferies says in addition to taking the burden off people’s shoulders by eliminating the hassle of having to cook dinner, Lasagna Love helps to break the stigma surrounding asking for help.
“As a front-line worker, I had a 16-hour day yesterday and as a mom of three, I am too tired to cook when I get home,” says Chicagoland mom Lola, who was nominated by a friend to receive a lasagna to make her day a little easier. “When I got home, I was able to put my feet up and enjoy the best lasagna I have ever tasted! Thank you again to whoever you are that cooked it. It was beyond delicious.”
Anyone can volunteer to be matched with a family in need. Lasagna Love has a flexible volunteer system where volunteers elect how often they’d like to cook (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly) and how far they are willing to travel. They also accept supplies, such as lasagna noodles, jars of sauce or disposable tin pans.
“Lasagna Love has provided such a great opportunity to warm the bellies and hearts of our neighbors,” says Jefferies.
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