Everyday Greatness: Kindness from the Kitchen

Rhiannon Menn launched a movement to deliver lasagna—and love—to struggling neighbors

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Posted in , Mar 26, 2022

Rhiannon Menn and daughter Cimorene; photo courtesy Rhiannon Menn

Who She Is: Rhiannon Menn is the founder of Lasagna Love, a global nonprofit that connects neighbors through homemade meal deliv­ery. In March 2020, her San Diego commu­nity shut down because of the pandemic. She and her husband own a design and build company, but their projects were put on hold. Rhiannon felt helpless and wondered what she could do to be useful. It didn’t take her long to decide.

“Cooking is my happy place,” she says. She ordered groceries online and got to work. She and her daughter, Cimorene, then three, made extra pans of lasagna, and Rhiannon posted in a local moms’ group on Facebook, offer­ing to drop off a free home-cooked meal to anyone who wanted one. Some people requested a meal. Even more wanted to help Rhian­non feed those who were struggling.

What She Does: Rhiannon created a spreadsheet for each volunteer, matching them with families who’d requested a meal. Word of what she was doing spread quickly on social media. “By sum­mer, we had more than 100 volunteer chefs,” she says. Too many for one person to track. Someone offered to create an online portal to manage the volun­teers and meal requests. This automated system freed Rhiannon to do what she really loves: cook and reach people in need.

Why She Does It: For Rhiannon, lasagna is the ultimate comfort food. But it’s about more than just food. “Our volunteers deliver a sense of hope with the meal,” she says. “We want people to know that a stranger cared enough about them to make them a meal. Kindness is contagious, and it can transform communities.”

Lasagna Love cur­rently has 25,000 volunteers—or Lasa­gna Chefs, as they’re called—across the United States, Canada and Australia, who have delivered more than 150,000 meals to families in their communities. “This movement has given me purpose in a way I didn’t have before,” Rhiannon says.

In her home, cooking is a family event. Cimorene, now five, has gotten good at layering the noodles. Rhiannon also has a three-year-old son and an 11-month-old baby boy. “I love that my kids are learning the importance of helping others,” she says.

How She Does It: Volunteer chefs log in to the portal and input how many meals they’d like to deliver that week. The system matches them with nearby fami­lies requesting a meal, and the volunteer texts the family to set up a delivery time. The meals are dropped off on doorsteps for contact-free delivery.

The organization is called Lasagna Love, but volunteers can de­liver any home-cooked meal they’d like. Rhian­non’s recipe is her own take on lasagna, made healthier with grated zucchini and yellow squash. “I’ve shared my recipe, but volunteers are welcome to use their own recipes for any dishes they’d like to make,” she says.

How You Can Do It: Want to become a Lasagna Chef? Visit lasagnalove.org for more information. Even if you don’t cook, there are ways to help. You can sponsor a Lasagna Chef by donating funds for the groceries needed to prepare the extra meals. You can also sign Lasagna Love’s Kind­ness Pledge and commit to spread kindness in your community and look for ways to help those in need.

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