Massachusetts volunteers serve communities through lasagna
When the global pandemic forced the world into their homes in 2020, it took the sense of community with it.
Angie Madore of Wilmington was perplexed about how to deal with the whole situation. That fall, a solution emerged.
“As a working mom, I really lost a sense of myself during the pandemic because of how busy I was homeschooling the kids while trying to stay on top of work,” Madore said.
One day, she saw a social media post seeking volunteers to cook and donate meals. The group, Lasagna Love, was founded by New England mom of three Rhiannon Menn, “who wanted to help people in her own community during the height of COVID.” Madore said she “was smitten immediately.”
“I love to cook, and I love helping people, so Lasagna Love was a tangible way for me to do something I love to do while contributing to the community during a time when we all needed a little extra kindness in our lives.”
The premise behind Lasagna Love is fairly simple. Volunteers can sign up to make lasagnas and deliver them without contact to people in their area who have registered to be a recipient, whether it be those in need or even a harried mom craving someone else to take care of them.
Recipients are able to note dietary restrictions and make special requests and are matched up with a chef.
Since its launch, Lasagna Love “has grown exponentially,” she said, delivering well over 250,000 meals serving over 1 million individuals.
It has an impressive 35,000 volunteers in three countries — the U.S., Australia and Canada — making and delivering lasagnas and, in the process, spreading kindness in their local communities.
Madore, a Wilmington resident for eight years who is soon moving to Maine, started in a Lasagna Chef role before quickly moving into a Local Leader position.
She began with a small region in Greater Lowell but now provides leadership to over 30 communities across the state including her hometown of Framingham, Fitchburg, Leominster and “everywhere in between.”
In the region she oversees, there are 143 active volunteer chefs and over 400 “who are currently paused.”
“Many take the summer off as our numbers tend to be a little lighter,” Madore said. “As for age range, it’s very wide. I have several high school students who volunteer for volunteer hours through retirees. Our volunteer base is as diverse as the families we serve.”
While she doesn’t cook as often herself since moving into volunteer leadership, she has made and delivered over 50 lasagnas.
“I have cooked for families welcoming new babies into the home, single parents who need a break, senior citizens, families who have lost loved ones, people undergoing medical treatment, as well as two-parent households whose lives are just so busy, they could use a break,” she said. “I have also made lasagnas for larger events, such as cooking for a homeless shelter, senior housing development, school nurses, just to name a few. If someone asks for a meal, we provide it. No questions asked.”
She said she is incredibly grateful to those who step up to volunteer to be chefs and that she “appreciates them all so much.” Over the two years she has been with Lasagna Love, 20 of those months as a Local Leader, Madore said she has been “truly humbled by the good people I am surrounded by every single day.”
“Our region is very fortunate to have such a large number of volunteers, rarely does a family have to wait more than a week or two for a lasagna. It’s incredible!”
She went on to say that she doesn’t think most people “fully understand the scope of our program.”
“I think sometimes people think we are privately funded, or have some sort of facility we cook from, etc. But we are not. Volunteers follow their own recipes, shop for ingredients, cook and deliver lasagnas all on their own dime and out of their own private homes. It’s a beautiful thing.”
For more information on Lasagna Love, to volunteer or to request a lasagna, go to lasagnalove.org.