Photo courtesy Twitter
Second Lady of Pennsylvania Giselle Fetterman is a big proponent of Lasagna Love.
By Elizabeth Perry
In this issue we cover the work of Lasagna Love, an organization that connects people who like to cook lasagna with people in need of a meal. Maybe those people who ask for help can’t afford food, or maybe they are going through issues in their lives that make cooking extremely difficult.
Lasagna was the second food I learned how to make, after fried eggs. As Crafton volunteer Joe Allen said, “that’s the thing about lasagna, it looks more difficult than it is.”
It’s the hard-to-screw-up favorite I make for special occasions. When people lose a loved one or have a baby, it’s usually the dish I bring. Sometimes words fail us and actions are the only things that count. When there are no words, there’s lasagna.
The founder of Lasagna Love, Rhiannon Menn, came up with the idea during the pandemic, when lines for food banks became massive traffic jams that lasted for hours as people waited for groceries.
Her concept for charity has gained a national reach because baking a lasagna and dropping it off for a hungry neighbor is familiar and inherently comforting for both parties involved. It’s a small thing many people can do which has a huge impact on the life of the recipient.
Sometimes the bad in the world can feel overwhelming. The numbing onslaught of trouble can make a person shut down, especially if it's happening in our neighborhood. Complexity can hamper action, too. It’s hard to determine when rushing into action will make a delicate situation break. When trying to learn all angles of a problem, the personal can often get lost.
Which is why I am impressed by the cleverness of the model imparted by Lasagna Love. It combines technology with something most of us have experienced before. It changes the emphasis on the words, “What can I do?” to focus on things you, as an individual, know how to do. It takes the ubiquitous language of self-empowerment which has been marketed to women and puts it in service of charity.
As Allen said, “One of the things I like about the program is I’m meeting people I’d never come across.”
Lasagna Love creates a sense of community in the digital age and encourages neighbors to meet people they’d otherwise never know. Unlike other digital giving programs that rely mainly on cash donations, the act of giving becomes incredibly personal. In the past, that personal touch has been reserved for organizations like rotary clubs or churches.
This organization will never replace traditional forms of community engagement and activism, but it does add a new facet to the act of giving. This is a model that can be replicated to suit more skills.
Simple things can be great.