When I first learned about Lasagna Love, it was in its infancy–well before there was an established website, dedicated social channels or even a logo.
I stumbled across one of Lasagna Love Founder Rhiannon Menn’s posts on Instagram while searching on the hashtag #helpingothers. Like many others, I was feeling desperate to do something (anything!) purposeful to safely support others dealing with pandemic doldrums and was researching potential ways to do so. Rhiannon’s post struck a chord and immediately sparked action.
I’ve heard similar stories from other Lasagna Love volunteers, each expressly conveying the immediate sense of purpose experienced when signing up as a lasagna chef. It has been awe-inspiring to see so many humans board the Lasagna Love train.
Pans of delicious pasta and cheese laden with tomato sauce have become the primary vehicle and symbol for thousands of altruistic efforts from an “army of affection” bound together through purpose, action and an innate desire to spread kindness.
Interestingly though, Lasagna Love isn’t about lasagna.
“Sharing kindness is a way to let another struggling soul know there is love in the world.”
In the past nine months, I pondered how more than 20,000 individuals from all walks of life, different geographic locales, ethnicities, gender, race and political affiliation, collectively came together to make and deliver one of America’s most popular comfort foods. What is it about Lasagna Love that makes it so successful?
Research has shown that people that witness kind acts are often motivated to perform a kind act themselves. Acts can be as simple as paying someone a compliment, holding open a door for another, returning someone’s grocery cart, or paying for another coffee shop patron’s coffee order. In my opinion, it’s the circularity of kindness--the idea that when a random act of kindness is executed, it prompts a chain reaction which soon returns to the originator.
A single pan of lasagna inarguably has a positive impact on recipients contending with food insecurity or moms too exhausted at days end to prepare yet another meal. At the same time, Lasagna Love volunteers have shared beautiful and personal stories and images on Lasagna Love’s social channels about their lives and how the Lasagna Love community has supported and inspired them and provided a sense of community. Members of the Lasagna Love community have supported other volunteers through family losses and joys, injuries and illnesses.
We have learned that lasagna recipients have not only joined Lasagna Love as lasagna chefs themselves, others have been moved into action in other ways–further building out the “kindness circle.” One example shared was a lasagna recipient who, after receiving a lasagna, paid his neighbor’s electric bill. A front line worker, nominated to receive a delivery, sent a heart-warming note showering Lasagna Love with praise for being zero-judgement and inclusive.
Humans are undoubtedly skilled at masking personal challenges and most are hesitant to reach out for help. Lasagna Love tries to flip the script and instead encourages anyone and everyone to raise the white flag–even if for a moment. Although we can never know what another person is contending with, we can change the trajectory and dynamics of one’s day with an unexpected gesture of kindness–with no strings, no expectations and zero judgement.
Because more than 20,000+ amazing humans agree, Lasagna Love has been uniquely successful — transforming one woman’s king gesture into a nationwide (soon to be global!) movement of kindness. More importantly, it has resulted in thousands of acts of kindness each week and a boomerang of goodness being woven into the very fabric of our society.
It was never about lasagna. It was always about love and kindness.