This article originally appeared in the April 2021 edition of Senior Scope. Article by Seth Thomas.
Since late last year, Mattapoisett resident Whitney Tully has been busy in her kitchen, perfecting her lasagna recipe. She makes the dish multiple times a week – not for her family, but for her community.
She’s part of a growing network called Lasagna Love, a nonprofit that formed during the pandemic. Lasagna Love allows anyone to request a free lasagna, which is made by a volunteer, in his or her own kitchen. It also provides a volunteer opportunity for anyone able to make a pan of lasagna.
The project initially started in San Diego not long after the pandemic began. Rhiannon Menn wanted to find a way to assist her neighbors, who were feeling the economic impact of the shutdown. Her Facebook friends wanted to know how they, too, could become volunteer cooks, and the nonprofit was formed. The project has expanded around the nation, with volunteers in most states.
Tully, much like the other volunteers who first joined the effort, first heard about Lasagna Love through Facebook. A full-time worker, Tully said she had been looking for a volunteer opportunity that would fit her schedule and her interests.
“I do enjoy cooking, and that’s part of the reason why I signed up,” she said.
Tully has since become a regional leader for the nonprofit, where she coordinates around 40 local chefs who help feed people throughout the Greater New Bedford and Fall River regions.
“The motto of Lasagna Love is to spread kindness, strengthen communities and provide food to those in need,” said Tully. “That’s really what they embody. Kindness is so desperately needed nowadays.”
Through the official website, anyone can request a lasagna or sign up to become a volunteer chef. If you don’t have access to the internet, friends or family members can put in a request on your behalf, and Tully said a paper form is in development.
She said many people will nominate essential workers to receive a lasagna as a thank-you present.
Requests require a name and contact information, and you can indicate if you have any special dietary needs, such as a gluten-free or vegetarian option, and you can make note of any allergies. Meals can arrive cooked or uncooked. The volunteer chefs will contact the recipient and coordinate a time for delivery, and deliveries will take social distancing and safety protocols into account.
“And that’s it,” said Tully. “Many of the recipients will later text the chefs, thanking them for their work.”
She said the local chefs taking part range from full-time workers to retirees, and many are using the opportunity to teach their children and grandchildren about the value of volunteerism. Volunteers produce meals at their own expense, in their own kitchens, but the program does not require a commitment. Volunteers can also follow their own recipe.
“It’s been a wonderful experience, and we’re helping people, which is the most awesome part,” said Tully.
To request a lasagna or have one delivered to someone else, visit Lasagna Love online at lasagnalove.org. Contact Whitney Tully to learn more about volunteering opportunities at firstname.lastname@example.org.