In a world where strings and red tape seem to be attached to just about everything, Lasagna Love is offering up kindness — no questions asked — one lasagna at a time.
Here in Atlanta, the local chapter of the international organization has been delivering lasagnas to individuals and families dealing with illness, financial stress, emotional issues or trying times for the past two years.
Lasagna Love hopes to deliver even more “love and kindness” throughout Atlanta in the form of hearty, complimentary meals for seniors, said Lynn Hirsch, the organization’s global outreach director and a member of its statewide leadership team.
Hirsch is also a volunteer lasagna chef, regularly delivering meals throughout metro Atlanta. The chefs currently deliver to many residents of the Jewish Tower, as well as to seniors in One Good Deed, which is part of the Jewish Family and Career Services’ Aviv program. According to Hirsch, the group would like to expand their outreach efforts by targeting additional Jewish senior programs, senior facilities and independent living residences.
“Seeing the faces of our residents who have not had a homemade meal in months is priceless; there is so much joy in this project. Seeing the excitement and dedication the volunteers have is even better,” said Lee Pratt, executive director of the Jewish and Zaban Towers. “Lasagna Love is the perfect name for this project!
There are few foods that are more comforting than a homemade lasagna. The local hub has been flexible and worked with the different needs of our community including kosher, vegan and Passover lasagna. Baking selflessly with so much kindness is proof that food continues to be a powerful way to bring all people together,” she added.
Hirsch found out about Lasagna Love while watching a segment on NBC’s “Today” show during the pandemic. She had always cooked and baked and was looking for a new outlet to focus her energy as she embarked upon a new phase of her own life as a senior. When Hirsch heard about the organization and its mission, she knew she had found her next big project. She contacted the organization and, as the saying goes, the rest is history.
Through the hard work of the Georgia leadership team, there are currently 275 active volunteer chefs in Georgia, with 190 located in the greater Atlanta metropolitan area. The chefs are matched with recipients who can specify any dietary requirements.
To date, 4,139 lasagnas have been delivered throughout metro Atlanta since August 2020, with 18,626 individuals served. For the entire state of Georgia, 5,217 lasagnas have been delivered, impacting 23,463 individuals.
Teachers, healthcare professionals and first responders are also frequent recipients of lasagna deliveries. Each nominee is contacted by the lasagna chef assigned to them and a convenient delivery time is set. Due to COVID concerns, all deliveries are contact-free. As important as the meals are, the love and kindness that come with them are just as significant to the recipients.
“Food insecurity is an important issue, but just as pressing is the need for people to know they can ask for help and receive it with a dose of kindness,” said Hirsch.
One Good Deed is a program that matches volunteers 21 and older with seniors who live independently but could benefit from friendly companionship and support. One Good Deed seniors have been grateful for the multiple lasagnas prepared and delivered by Lasagna Love volunteers.
According to Laura Marcus, program coordinator of One Good Deed, “Our seniors have embraced the smaller-sized portions and freeze the extra pans for meals throughout the month. Lasagna Love is wonderful and truly a gift of love in Atlanta. You cannot imagine the joy the volunteers bring to so many people all across the city. From midtown to Alpharetta, and from Marietta to Tucker, their impact is felt far and wide,” said Marcus.
Lasagna Love began at the start of the pandemic, when founder Rhiannon Menn, who lived in San Diego at the time, was looking for a way to help mothers in her community. She and her toddler started making and delivering meals to families in the neighborhood who were struggling — whether that struggle was financial, emotional or simply a feeling of being overwhelmed.
Since that time, what started as one mom and her child helping others has grown into an international movement that aims to impact communities by connecting neighbors through gestures of kindness and support.
Currently, more than 200,000 lasagnas have been delivered across the United States, Canada and Australia, touching the lives of 850,000 individuals. Some 30,000 volunteers are dedicated to baking and delivering the lasagnas. Their work has helped to address the unprecedented rise in food insecurity, especially during the pandemic.
The mission is straightforward: feed families, spread kindness and strengthen communities, while eliminating the stigma often associated with asking for help.
To request a lasagna or to volunteer, please visit www.lasagnalove.org.