Friday, April 22, 2022

Lasagna Love spreads kindness throughout community

Amanda Wertanen of Windham makes a lasagna from scratch
for donation to a local family. Wertanen is one of a handful of
volunteer chefs making meals for the Lasagna Love
organization, a group dedicated to spreading love and
kindness in the community. SUBMITTED PHOTO  
By Andrew Wing

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to so many terrible things from loss of life to worldwide lockdowns, to global disruption, and it's been hard on everybody. Despite that, some good things have come out of it, and one of those things is Lasagna Love. 

A global nonprofit organization, Lasagna Love was born out of the pandemic and aims to positively impact communities by connecting neighbors with neighbors through homemade meal deliveries. It seeks to eliminate the stigma associated with asking for help when it’s needed most and their mission is a simple one -- to feed families, spread kindness, and strengthen communities.

Lasagna Love was started by a mother from California as she connected home cooks who wanted to make dinner with others who needed a little help during the trying times. Now just two years later, Lasagna Love is serving three countries, providing about 3,500 meals a week to those in need thanks to over 20,000 volunteers, and it’s even making an impact in our communities in Windham and Raymond.

A big reason why Lasagna Love has been able to make an impact in this community is Jennifer Merrill. She has been a Windham resident all her life and she started volunteering for Lasagna Love some 18 months ago.

“I heard about the opportunity during the pandemic, and it sounded like a good way to provide a much needed service while still staying safe because there was little to no face to face contact with recipients,” said Merrill. “I enjoy cooking and it sounded like an easy way to make a difference in the local area, and since I have been on the receiving end of a meal delivery before, I know how helpful it truly is for many reasons.”

Several months before becoming the regional leader for southern Maine, Merrill was cooking a lasagna every week or so. She was chosen as regional leader because she has lived here her whole life and she knew the area well, and as regional leader, she’s grown the base of the organization by adding both more volunteers and recipients. 

The Town of Windham currently has seven chefs that are making lasagnas for the organization, and they’re always eager to add more to the list as there are typically about thirty deliveries each week for the southern Maine region, with one to four of those deliveries being in Windham. While this organization was created to help mainly those in need, Merrill views it as being mutually beneficial.

“Lasagna Love helps both chefs and recipients,” said Merrill. “Chefs are blessed to be able to give, and recipients are blessed with a home cooked lasagna made and delivered with kindness, from the heart.”

Also, Merrill encourages anyone who’s interested in cooking to sign up to cook monthly, bi-weekly, weekly, or even just once to try it out. Similarly, she encourages anyone who could use a hand to request a lasagna.

“Everyone needs a break some time,” said Merrill. “Please don’t feel like someone else needs it more than you, everyone is worthy of this act of kindness. Requests come in for just about any reason, and there is no judgment.”

One person that took Merrill’s advice and joined was Kelly Grant Smith of Windham. Smith joined last fall after seeing a segment about Lasagna Love on the Today Show on television. And while she doesn’t consider herself a “chef,” Smith has been very happy with her decision to join and help those in need.

“I’ve loved to cook my whole life, and while I don’t have a recipe for lasagna, I just make it like my mom did,” said Smith. “During the pandemic, like so many others, I experimented more. I dug out my bread machine, perfected my bagels, and made a lot more comfort food, so you could say Lasagna Love came at a perfect time.”

There’s no denying that Lasagna Love has touched many lives since its inception, but in the past month, it has significantly touched someone in our community, and that was Cathy Dodge of Windham. A friend of Cathy’s suggested Lasagna Love to her after her mom passed away, and although it was hard for her to accept help, she did and was able to have a night of not having to stress over the mundane task of making dinner.

“My mother told me long ago that you are being a blessing to someone else by letting them bless you with help, and that stuck with me,” said Dodge. “I love that Lasagna Love is there for anyone. You do not need to be in sickness, distress, or financial difficulties, anyone for any reason can request a meal once a month.”

To request a meal or for more information about becoming a Lasagna Love chef, visit <

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your Comments Help Improve Your Community.