CLIFTON PARK — There’s something comforting about a lasagna. Whether you’re in the kitchen whipping one up from scratch or thawing out those pesky Stouffers trays that never seem to cook right, you can guarantee almost anyone loves a lasagna.
The love of one of Italy’s most revered dishes (and one that was actually first created in Ancient Greece, believe it or not) is the centerpiece of Lasagna Love, a nationwide organization with a chapter in the Capital District.
The premise of Lasagna Love is simple; volunteers (lovingly named ‘lasagna mamas’ and ‘lasagna papas’) are matched by their regional leader with a family or person who requests a lasagna. People who request could be in a variety of different situations — some might be financially struggling to feed themselves, some might be in the middle of a family crisis and unable to cook, some might have a broken stove and are unable to cook for a few days. Volunteers reach out to the recipient and ask about allergies or aversions to any foods. From there, the lasagna mama or papa makes the lasagna (or another dish, it doesn’t have to be lasagna) and coordinates with the recipient for drop off. No one ever comes in contact at the drop-off and all lasagnas are made with CDC and state guidelines in mind. Also, volunteers are asked about their own preferences, from cooking to driving distance, so no one ever feels taken advantage of. Recipients can request one lasagna a month.
Nicole Derucher has been with Lasagna Love for about four weeks. In that time, she has delivered three lasagnas. Coming across the group was an act of chance; she moderates a mom group that someone posted it in. Even though the post was not in line with group rules, she was able to spread the word to the group and found herself signing up.
“I love spreading kindness through this and making someone’s day a bit brighter,” Derucher said. “Plus, it challenges me. I like to try to hide veggies in it so kids will get some nutrition from it without knowing. However, if a family explicitly says no veggies, we follow it.”
Lasagna Love is accessible to even the most novice of home cooks; the group has a template for a basic lasagna and members will share recipes with one another. Capital District regional leader Kelly Andolina said this is especially frequent when a volunteer is tasked with a recipient with food restrictions or allergies.
“We really love supporting one another and making each delivery special,” she said. “We want people to smile when they see how much love was poured into making the dish.”
There is also no restriction on how the lasagna must be delivered, temperature-wise; recipients can request a hot meal if they’re having stove trouble, or they can ask for it frozen or refrigerated to conserve.
“We’re so lucky that no one has abused the system so far and we’ve worked with some really amazing people,” Andolina said. “This started as something so small and it’s now grown into this amazing organization.”
To request a lasagna or sign up to volunteer, visit lasagnalove.org.