Massachusetts volunteers serve communities through lasagna
When the global pandemic forced the world back home in 2020, it took with it a sense of community.
Wilmington’s Angie Madore was puzzled as to how to handle the whole situation. This fall, a solution emerged.
“As a working mom, I really lost my 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 looking for volunteers to cook and donate meals. The group, Lasagna Love, was founded by Rhiannon Menn, a mother of three from New England, “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 at a time when we all needed a little more of kindness in our lives.”
The premise behind Lasagna Love is quite simple. Volunteers can sign up to make lasagna and deliver it contactless to people in their area who have signed up to benefit, whether it’s people in need or even a harassed mom in need. someone else take care of her.
Beneficiaries can note dietary restrictions and make special requests and are paired with a chef.
Since its launch, Lasagna Love “has grown exponentially,” she said, delivering more than 250,000 meals serving more than one million people.
It has an impressive 35,000 volunteers in three countries – the United States, Australia and Canada – making and delivering lasagna and, in the process, spreading kindness in their local communities.
Madore, an eight-year Wilmington resident soon to be moving to Maine, started out in a lasagna chef role before quickly transitioning into a local chef role.
She started with a small area in Greater Lowell, but now provides leadership to more than 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 more than 400 “who are currently on hiatus”.
“A lot of people take the summer because our numbers tend to be a bit lighter,” Madore said. “As for the age range, it is 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.
Although she hasn’t cooked as often herself since becoming a volunteer leader, she has prepared and delivered more than 50 lasagnas.
“I have cooked for families welcoming new babies into the home, single parents needing a break, seniors, families who have lost loved ones, people undergoing medical treatment, as well as households two parents whose lives are so busy they need a break,” she said. “I’ve also made lasagna for larger events, like cooking for a homeless shelter, a senior housing development, school nurses, 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 volunteer to be chefs and “appreciates them all so much”. In the two years she’s been with Lasagna Love, 20 of those months as a local leader, Madore said she’s been “truly humbled by the good people I’m surrounded by every day.”
“Our region is very lucky to have so many 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’re privately funded, or we have some sort of facility that we cook from, etc. But this is not the case. Volunteers follow their own recipes, buy ingredients, cook and deliver lasagna at their own expense and from their own private homes. It’s a beautiful thing.
For more information about Lasagna Love, to volunteer, or to request a lasagna, go to lasagnalove.org.