American community act of kindness makes its way to Calgary

Lasagna Love started in one woman's kitchen and is now making a difference in communities internationally

By Krista Sylvester | January 28, 2022 |5:00 am

Lasagna Love Calgary regional director Lissette Perez knew she wanted to be involved in this community initiative pairing volunteers who make meals with families who need them.

Photo: Submitted

It started in San Diego at the beginning of the pandemic with a mother and daughter duo making and delivering meals to families residing in their neighbourhood who were struggling with COVID-induced woes.

That organic, community pay-it-forward initiative grew into the non-profit Lasagna Love, and has since exploded into all 50 states, Australia, and now Canada — including right here in Calgary since late fall 2021. 

As the story goes, Lasagna Love founder Rhiannon Menn was just looking for a way to help others in her community during an anxious time. Some were contending with income or job loss as well as general fear, says volunteer program director Marci Sieracki. 

“She put up a Facebook post, “I am cooking lasagna for dinner, does anyone in the community need extra dinner?’ And it just really spread from that post,” Sieracki says, adding they delivered meals to 500,000 people in 2021. 

“And it went from San Diego to all over the country and then all over the US. It really took off, and now it’s made its way to Canada.”

A small act of kindness that crosses all language and cultural barriers

Thousands of volunteers started making lasagna and other meals in their own kitchen, then delivering them to neighbours’ doorsteps as a way to provide a small break from their lives. 

There was no way to know how one small act of kindness would explode, Sieracki says, but that’s the power of community. 

“It started with one mom in one house. It’s been an amazing experience to watch it grow and be a part of it. It’s heartwarming… and just reminds you there is a lot of good in the world,” she adds. 

The non-profit’s ultimate vision is to weave kindness back into the lives of everyday people — and so far, that’s happening as there are now over 20,000 volunteers making and delivering meals in their communities. 

Including right here in Calgary — but they need more local volunteers

When Lissette Perez heard about the initiative late last year, she knew she wanted to be involved — but she was the first in the Calgary area to express interest. 

Now, she’s leading the local initiative as the Calgary regional leader. 

“I was just scrolling on Facebook when I saw a link, and I was curious with the name,” she says, adding she reached out to Sieracki and asked if she could volunteer. 

Perez says the response has been overwhelming. She says she currently has over 250 requests for meals, but less than 30 volunteers, which shows her there’s a “definite need for it.” 

“The thing I love most about it is that there’s no judgments on why people are signing up or why people are requesting a meal,” she explains. 

“So that just leaves it open-ended for anybody, whether it’s a mom who’s overwhelmed with all of her children, and just needs a break, or whether it’s a family who’s on low income or just needs help with providing a meal for the family. There’s no judgment.”

Sieracki says the Canadian response has been great — but Calgary, in particular, has taken off the most so far. 

“It’s just been a very positive response and the chefs there have been incredibly nice; the volunteers are friendly and they’re really excited about it.” 

Local volunteers can sign up to help cook and deliver meals to people in their community, while individuals or families can also sign up to request meals online. 

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Krista Sylvester

Managing Editor at Calgary Citizen

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