It can’t be denied that a home-cooked meal brings people together. When Rhiannon Menn put a call out to see if anyone needed help in a San Diego moms’ group, she didn’t expect her act of kindness to create a movement of giving — but it did.
She made her initial deliveries of homemade lasagnas in March 2020 but it did not stop there. Her first lasagnas were for “mamas who are struggling right now either because of lost income, lost childcare, or another reason having to do with #coronavirus,” she wrote on Facebook.
Rhiannon’s helping hand grew into the grassroots nonprofit organization Lasagna Love. While it started with a few lasagnas to share, it now serves more than 1,000 U.S. cities and has over 18,000 volunteers nationwide. On average, about 3,500 meals are delivered weekly. We only have one word: Wow!
It was hard and often emotional for her to see families struggle during the pandemic, and she simply wanted to provide some level of help. After her first delivery, she recalls sitting in her car crying about these families’ need. But the response she got was moving. Even the silent responses spoke to her.
“I realized how hard it could be to ask for help and how many people felt embarrassed,” Rhiannon said.
Word of her efforts spread and more people wanted to join her cause. Within a month there were 10 volunteers, who she calls Lasagna Moms and Papas. And by November 2020, the organization had served more than 4,000 lasagnas to families.
“People who saw my initial posts reached out, asking if there were enough families and could they help make lasagna,” Rhiannon recalled. “I thought, sure. Why not? Then their friends saw, and their friends’ friends saw, and all of sudden we had this incredible group of people across the country all doing the same thing.”
And the rest is history. She also believes that the response was so positive because people wanted to connect with others due to the isolation of the pandemic. They wanted to give back but just needed a way to do so.
Lasagna Love is all about family bonding. Cooking in the kitchen is a great bonding experience, and Rihannon often cooks with her 3-year-old daughter, Cimorene. The importance of family time was always the foundation for the initiative.
“…Family bonding was built into the very fabric of Lasagna Love from day one,” she said.
That family bonding continues to grow as she said she wanted her daughter’s memories of the pandemic to be more about what they did to help than what they lost or their struggles. She added that the Lasagna Love initiative is about so much more than delivering food. It’s really become a movement of kindness. Lasagna just happens to be the vessel.
And what a warm and homey vessel it has become for many to bring light to others.
Rihannon is not new to recognizing a need and then doing something about it. She is also the founder of Good to Mama, an effort to change the narrative around what it means to be a mom. She is truly a change-maker who is changing the world one meal at a time.
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