Linda Costello and Ralph Comrie have heard a lot of stories and seen a lot of tears while delivering lasagna. As regional leaders for national grassroots movement Lasagna Love, they are overwhelmed by the goodness in our community.
Lasagna Love matches volunteer cooks to people in their neighborhood who could use a homemade meal; health care workers, single parents, first responders, teachers and anyone else needing a little support and encouragement during tough times.
The program began in San Diego last May when one mom, Rhiannon Menn, and her young daughter started delivering hot meals to families in their neighborhood who were struggling with pandemic fallout. Lasagna Love has since spread nationwide and delivered over 15,000 meals with the help of 7,000 volunteers, including 90 in the Charleston area.
“It has just snowballed… it’s an amazing movement exploding with love and kindness and appreciation,” Costello said. “Everybody just wants to help; it’s been a great experience.”
Costello and Comrie first heard about Lasagna Love on the Daniel Island Moms Facebook page and immediately signed up to help.
“I remember the first lasagna we delivered right around Christmas and the woman was crying with her son. She said, ‘I can’t begin to thank you, this just warms my heart’ and when we left, we started crying too,” Costello said. “I told Ralph she’s crying because she’s so thankful but we’re the ones feeling all the joy.”
The duo has since become regional leaders for the movement, with Comrie matching local volunteer cooks to meal requests, and Costello publicizing the program and its efforts to alleviate the immense rise in food insecurity since the pandemic began.
“One of the things I’m still surprised about is just how many people are in need in our neighborhood and in Charleston. It’s just unbelievable,” Comrie said. “And it's overwhelming how many volunteers there are and how far they’ll go to deliver lasagna.”
Lasagna Love cooks have delivered hot meals throughout the Charleston area; to hospitals and hospices, the elderly, people who have lost jobs, and families who just need a break for a night. But there are more volunteers than meal requests and Costello is vigorously promoting awareness of the program through community outreach organizations, food banks, veterans centers, and social and news media.
There are no requirements to receive a meal, and requests can be made at lasa gnalove.org, where you can also sign up to volunteer, sponsor a chef, or nominate someone to receive a delivery.
One simple act of kindness can bring hope in a time of uncertainty, as one local woman wrote, “I’m nominating my friend who desperately needs all the extra help she can get. COVID has drastically affected her and her little ones’ life. Thank you so much for what you are doing.”