A Little Lasagna Love Goes a Long Way to Helping in Hobart
by Stephanie Williams
Lasagna Love started at the beginning of the pandemic by a mum (Rhiannon) in the USA. She began making meals and delivering them to community members who were struggling with the challenges the pandemic bought. This inspired her friends and other community members to do the same and the movement spread from there. Now Hobart woman Stacy Klousia has brought the concept to Australia and is sharing the love locally, while expanding across Australia.
How did you get involved in Lasagna Love? I first heard of Lasagna Love when a friend in the US posted her involvement in the movement. After following their growth and positive impact throughout the US, I reached out to Lasagna Love in early 2021 about branching out to Australia. The team of volunteers in America have been really generous in helping to get Lasagna Love off the ground here. As well as Tasmania, we have a small but growing team of volunteers in Victoria. We have also had requests for lasagnas in Perth, Queensland and the Northern Territory, so as soon as we can get volunteers, we can extend our reach even further.
How does it work? It’s a really simple model – community members can sign up as volunteers, dubbed Lasagna Chefs, who are willing to make a lasagna or homemade meal, either as a once off, monthly or weekly, it’s up to the volunteer! Community members can sign up to receive a meal (no questions asked!), a process that eliminates any stigma and barriers associated with asking for help. Families are then matched with a Lasagna Chef in their area and Lasagna Love is shared! Volunteers can identify how far they are willing to travel as well. It’s a simple act of comfort and kindness, which I feel is particularly needed at the moment. Our goals are simple, feed families, spread kindness, and strengthen communities.
Can volunteers make other foods to, especially if they have a cracking favourite dish up their sleeve! For sure! If you make a mean beef stroganoff or have a family favorite casserole, you can arrange this with your match. We can accommodate all dietary requirements as well.
How do you make sure the food is safe? Once a volunteer signs up, they are provided with food safety principles to adhere to and training is provided on the Lasagna Love portal. Delivery of lasagnas is also contactless.
How are recipients chosen or found? Sometimes people in need can be reluctant to actually ask for help, can people nominate recipients too? Recipients so far have been found through promotion on Facebook but hopefully with interviews like this and more awareness in the community, more people will reach out for help. We really do encourage anyone to reach out for help. You may be struggling financially, it may be health related, at home with a new baby, emotional need or maybe you’re just plain exhausted! There is no shame in asking for help and Lasagna Love volunteers are here and want to help! And if you’re a family member, colleague or friend that has identified that someone you know needs a little help, you can request a meal on behalf of them. Maybe you’re a new dad and you can make a request on behalf of your family or for a friend who has recently lost a loved one.
Do you have a day job? Yes, I am a social worker and work for a great organisation called The CREATE Foundation (the peak body representing the voices of children and young people with a care experience). I’m also a wife and mum to two busy daughters and a puppy.
What is it that inspired you to get involved? The pandemic has made many of us reflect on what’s important to us – to me I just wanted to do something positive. And while I get this through my day job and being a parent, I felt I had capacity to do more. I value volunteering and giving back to my community and I really want to encourage others to volunteer as well. This model is flexible in that it allows you to volunteer in your own home, your own time and get your family involved! My daughter draws pictures and a cute note to go with the lasagnas that we deliver. It’s also really important to me for my kids to learn to be socially conscious and community minded. Through this model, they can get involved, watch and learn how to cook a great lasagna.
Do you have any hot tips for a great lasagna? Slow cooked sauce and a little wine doesn’t go astray!
How can our readers get involved? Readers can jump on the website www.lasagnalove.org to request a meal or sign up to be a volunteer. Or follow us on Facebook at Lasagna Love – Tasmania. Currently we have 15 volunteers in Tasmania but the more volunteers we have around Tasmania, the more we can help! It would be amazing to see a team of Lasagna Chefs all around Tasmania in rural and regional areas. Organisations and community groups may want to get involved as well. If there is a workplace that offers time off for volunteering, this may be a good match. Or a home economics school group may want to get involved. We can work with that.