As part of TODAY's celebration of National Good Neighbor Day in collaboration with Nextdoor, we're looking to Lasagna Love founder Rhiannon Menn, for a some neighborly inspiration that feels — and tastes — good. NBCUniversal's parent company Comcast is an investor in Nextdoor.
In mid-March, when stay-at-home orders were mandated across the country, Rhiannon Menn, a mom in San Diego, California, was struggling to find purpose — until she realized she could use her cooking skills for good.
"Around April, I started feeling just super helpless," Menn told Sheinelle Jones on TODAY. "There were so many moms that I knew who had lost childcare, who had lost jobs. They were just feeling stressed out. And so literally one day, I was just like, I'm gonna make extra meals."
What began as Menn's effort to pass the time and provide a comforting dish to people in her community quickly became Lasagna Love, an organization with nearly 500 "lasagna mamas" — and papas! — spread out over 13 states and 266 cities. So far, they've fed more than 3,000 struggling families.
"I also got people responding saying, ‘Oh my gosh, like, I've been feeling helpless, too. Can I join you tonight? Can I make lasagnas?'" Menn said. "And I thought, 'Okay, why not?'"
More and more people pitched in, but there was no shortage of those who could use a free, hot meal. Since the pandemic, thousands of Americans were furloughed or lost their jobs completely and struggled to pay rent, buy groceries and get food on the table for their families.
Lasagna Love allows anyone can sign up to make a lasagna or receive one right to their doorstep, with a kind note included.
"Your actions don't have to be big to have a big impact. If making lasagna, it takes a few hours and delivering it takes maybe another hour," said Menn. "That's not a huge lift, but it has an amazing impact on one mom."
And it's not just these moms showing the love. Across the country, neighbors are turning to each other for support. "Social connection is the next huge mega trend that the world is going to grab hold of, because it's by caring about our communities, caring about each other, that we start to be able to make change at a grassroots level," Sarah Friar, CEO of Nextdoor, told TODAY.
For anyone interested in altruistic Italian cooking, it's easy to become a lasagna mama (or papa). The website has a sign up button for folks who would like to join Lasagna Love, donate to the organization or request a lasagna for their own family.