Mother Lode residents find joy in volunteering to make lasagna for others | News


Love is baked as Mother Lode embraces a national movement that began in response to food insecurity during the pandemic, but still continues in Tuolumne and Calaveras counties.

Lasagna Love is a grassroots, grassroots nonprofit movement that began in March 2020, at the start of the COVID-19 lockdown, with a simple act of kindness, according to founder and CEO Rhiannon Menn.

Lasagna, the quintessential comfort food, is a unique dish that can feed a family, freezes well, and several can be prepared at once, which made it the perfect choice for Menn when she decided to strain it. helping families facing food insecurity in their community.

The lockdown fueled uncertainty as jobs were lost, schools were closed and learning went virtual.

“Nineteen months ago, I decided to prepare extra meals and deliver them to families in my community who were struggling,” Menn said. “I had no idea that today we would be 25,000 volunteers strong, in three countries, and feed more than half a million people.”

After seeing a segment on Lasagna Love in September 2020 on The Today Show, Mountain Ranch’s Marcia Duggan, a retired former chef and restaurant owner, knew she had found her calling.

“I was the first person in our area to sign up and there were no families who had requested meals because people didn’t know,” Duggan said. “I couldn’t wait to cook so I pulled out a few flyers that were provided on the website and posted about Lasagna Love on a few local Facebook pages and people finally started signing up and requesting meals.”

The goal of Lasagna Love is to have a positive impact on communities by connecting neighbors through the delivery of home cooked meals and to end the shame associated with asking for help when you have it most. need. Their motto is: Nourish Families, Spread Kindness and Strengthen Communities.

“She’s my hero,” Duggan said of Menn. “She’s the founder, at the top of the organization, but she’s accessible. She is marvellous.”

Four months after volunteering to become a chef at Lasagna Love, Duggan became a regional chef. Its region is vast and covers seven counties: Tuolumne, Calaveras, Amador, Stanislaus, San Joaquin, El Dorado and Alpine.

When Duggan began his new leadership role, there were only six volunteer cooks in his vast region. Now there are 73.

It took him about five months to establish “decent-sized” teams in all the counties Duggan leads. Volunteer chefs create their own cooking schedule and can prepare meals weekly or once a month, whichever suits them.

Like Duggan, Sonora resident Betty Cones first discovered Lasagna Love when she watched a 2019 TV interview with Menn. Cones went online after the segment aired to learn more about the founder. and the Lasagna Love movement.

“I can tell you that I was the first and only volunteer in this field for a while,” said Cones. “It really makes me feel like I am doing something for my community and my neighbors. I am a wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother and a helper for anyone who needs me.

For the past two years, Cones’ grandson Levi Cones, 13, of Sonora, has kept his grandmother company, helping her prepare and then deliver meals to those who request them.

Betty Cones, who retired in 2003 from the Tuolumne County Recreation Department, currently makes four lasagna a month and delivers them the same day.

With volunteer cooks in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Canada and Australia, the resources for chefs are plentiful and include the association’s website, as well as an exclusive Facebook page that only Lasagna Love chefs can. to access.

The page offers tips for saving money, including information on grocery stores that sell ingredients for lasagna. Volunteers are responsible for purchasing their own food, the containers in which the lasagna is delivered, and the gas needed to drop off dinner, so any money-saving tips are welcome.

According to Duggan, there are clever ways to get help, if a boss wants it.

“I have friends who have donated money and supplies to me, and many cooks have Amazon wishlists that they share with their friends for supplies,” she said. “Sometimes people approach me, as a regional chef, to donate to someone in their area who cooks and I have paired some people up that way. “

In addition to the website and Facebook page, volunteers also have access to videos and articles to help them with preparation, cooking, delivery and food safety, which is a priority when preparing for the event. Italian staple with medieval roots.

The Cookbook, or Liber de Coquina, a 14th-century cookbook, contains what is believed to be the earliest written record of lasagna, lasagna spelled in the text. The city of Naples, in the southern Italian region of Campania, is said to have been the birthplace of lasagna.

The original 14th century recipe has evolved over time, regions and the preferences of each chef. Easier to prepare than the original medieval recipe, lasagna is still a multi-step process with an ingredient list that feels like a short novel that can be intimidating even for people who love to cook, like Kate Sills of Sonora.

The recipe seemed to take too long to prepare, and the many ingredients confirmed Sills’ hypothesis, until she began volunteering for Lasagna Love in October after reading about the group from a Facebook post. local.

“Honestly, I had never made lasagna before this,” Sills said.

During her second week of volunteering, the recipient, or the match, of Sills lasagna never responded, so she did what she had to do.

“I loved myself with the lasagna and have to say the lasagna is delicious,” she proclaimed.

Making lasagna a few times, as well as varying the ingredients for those with dietary restrictions, made Sills a better che, she said. Being a part of the movement has also made life sweeter for the software engineer.

“I get a lot of joy in making someone’s life easier and letting them know someone cares about them,” Sills said.

Sills’ enthusiasm for helping others in her community has rubbed off, and now her sister and mother both want to start cooking for the Lasagna Love movement.

“I like that Lasagna Love has no expectation of destitution or recognition from the recipients. Anyone can request a lasagna once a month, so there is no idea whether anyone is. a ‘merit’ my efforts, “she explained.” I like it, because everyone deserves a lasagna! “


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