Everybody Loves Lasagna

Booming new org serves food without asking questions

Mary McClear is here for you.
Portrait by Rachel Pressley

The nationwide organization Lasagna Love is a grassroots movement made from scratch, following the recipe of comfort food — in the form of homemade lasagna — shared one neighbor to another. “I love that it’s a simple way to meet a tangible need,” says local Lasagna Love volunteer Mary McClear. “No matter what you’re going through, you need to eat. It’s a beautiful thing, and an easy thing.” 

Lasagna Love was launched by Rhiannon Menn, a graduate of MIT’s business school who was living in San Diego at the start of the pandemic. She began to make and deliver meals to families in her neighborhood who were struggling emotionally, financially, or just feeling a bit too overwhelmed. The idea soon spread city to city, town to town, and to all 50 states — often as a way to express gratitude toward essential workers. 

“I first heard about Lasagna Love on Good Morning America,” McClear recalls. “Then all of a sudden on Facebook, I saw that Henderson County had a chapter. I was like, ‘Oh my God, that’s so great, they’ve grown so much!’ You sign up, tell them how many lasagnas you want to make and how often, and volunteer coordinators get in touch. I’ll get an e-mail saying they matched me with someone, and then I’ll text that person and say, ‘Hey, when would you like your lasagna delivered this week?’” McClear says each pan of lasagna is family-sized (served in a 9×13-inch pan), and she’s adjusted ingredients to suit folks with dietary preferences like gluten-free or vegetarian. 

To date, more than 80,000 home-cooked lasagnas have been delivered throughout America, in an effort that has positively impacted the lives of at least 300,000 people. Lasagna Love expects to continue to expand, even when COVID-19 is in the rearview mirror, thanks to the generosity and thoughtfulness of its 25,000-plus volunteer network.

“You don’t have to be suffering from anything major,” emphasizes McClear, reiterating that one of the goals of Lasagna Love is to remove any stigma that may be attached to the idea of asking a neighbor for help. “I’ve made lasagna for new moms and for people who lost their job — as well as for those who lost everything, including their pets, in a fire. I think people are maybe afraid to ask, and they need to feel it’s okay to do so. I really wish more people would.”

She adds that one of the main reasons she and her husband relocated to Henderson County two years ago was because the community offers so many rewarding ways to give back. “We were working with a realtor and said, ‘We just want to know what the volunteer opportunities are.’ It makes your life much richer, and volunteering for Lasagna Love makes me feel alive.” 

To learn more about Lasagna Love, request lasagna, or find out about volunteer opportunities visit lasagnalove.org. 

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