Cooking up some Lasagna Love with Second Lady Fetterman

This semester, what we need, more than anything, is a little love – and Lasagna Love is the best way to get (and give) it. 

Lasagna Love is an organization that was founded upon the notion of bringing love back into the world. Founded by Rhiannon Menn, mother and founder of Good to Mama, a self-care blog for mothers like herself, the Lasagna Love organization gives everyday people the opportunity to look out for others.

“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.’”

In May 2020, Lasagna Love was a small initiative for Menn to help out in her San Diego community. It quickly grew into a booming organization that delivers over 4,000 meals a week to food insecure families. Lasagna Love is now active in all 50 states and has recently extended its reach into Puerto Rico. 

In today’s society, empathy is something that is greatly needed. With the COVID-19 pandemic causing unemployment rates to skyrocket, many do not realize that this is only one of the many pandemics plaguing the world, and food insecurity is one of them. The Food Trust is an organization dedicated to addressing food insecurity and food deserts in the United States and is dedicated to giving all people access to nutritious, healthy food. Based out of Philadelphia, they work nationally to make these resources more available for the average person. Their mission is motivated by the staggering amount of food insecurity in America.

“According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 29.7 million Americans live in communities where a healthy diet is out of reach,” the Food Trust states on its website. 

The website further details, “Lower-income communities have fewer grocery stores and other healthy food retail outlets that provide a wide selection of affordable, nutritious foods. This problem impacts residents in both urban and rural areas — especially those living in communities of color.”

With these staggering statistics referring to Americans’ food insecurity prior to the pandemic, it is easy to see how food insecurity has quickly come to the forefront of issues in today’s society. Menn’s initiative is one of many attempts to bring fresh food to communities in need. The Food Trust brought attention to the value of bringing healthier food into lower income communities and leveling the playing field by launching their 2004 Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative.

“The FFFI proved that, with public sector incentives, grocers and other healthy food retailers could overcome the higher costs associated with locating and operating in underserved areas and open profitable stores,” according to the Food Trust. “The success of this model in Pennsylvania has influenced the design and the creation of similar programs in other states, including California, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, Michigan, Ohio and New York.”

Financing and support for healthy food programs and initiatives in lower income areas are steadily growing as time progresses, but in the meantime, if people can help their neighbors out, why not take the opportunity to? This is where Lasagna Love becomes an option. Lasagna Love is made up of over 18,000 volunteers, or Lasagna “Mamas” and “Papas,” and the organization is consistently growing and looking for new recruits.

If the initiative itself is not enough motivation for you, take the word of the Second Lady of Pennsylvania. Second Lady Gisele Barreto Fetterman, founder of the non-profit For Good PGH, which advocates for diversity and inclusion, and co-founder of 412 Food Rescue. 412 Food Rescue redistributed over 2.5 million pounds of food in its first two years of operation.

Fetterman was introduced to the Lasagna Love organization through a Pittsburgh Lasagna Mama and has been advocating for the organization ever since. This organization is after her own heart, as it focuses on providing food and resources for food insecure areas, as 412 Food Rescue does. Fetterman also has a soft spot for communities of color, as she is a Brazilian-American activist who stands avidly against discrimination. 

Fetterman is in strong support for the Lasagna Love organization.

“I love efforts that help make this world feel just a little bit smaller and that brings people together. Food is love!  What better way to show someone love than by making something delicious for them?” said Fetterman. “I hope it long outlives this pandemic. So many families feel alone and scared during this time and to be cared for by a stranger (who maybe becomes a friend) is a gift to both the recipient and the donor.”

For those who may not be the most skilled in the kitchen, have no fear — the second lady is right there with you. 

On the topic of if she had a go-to lasagna recipe, Fetterman answered honestly, “I don’t, as someone who is tragic in a kitchen, I googled, ‘easiest lasagna recipe.’ I’ve since developed a little confidence and skill around my lasagna art.”

Go to the Lasagna Love website and sign up to be a Lasagna Mama or Papa now. Spread a little love while you have the chance.