A huge shout out to Jesse’s Paddle (aka, The Jesse Klump Suicide Awareness and Prevention Program) for their very generous donation to sponsor this month’s award winner, Rhiannon Menn.
Rhiannon Menn, (Kihei, HI), is the founder of Lasagna Love, a non-profit that connects neighbors for home-cooked meal delivery.
Rhiannon said, “When the pandemic happened, I had so many people tell me that they were overwhelmed, I knew that there were other families and mamas who were overwhelmed with kids now learning at home, daycare gone, and their employer had sent them home to work. As I talked to other moms, I realized they were managing a lot of stress, anxiety, and some were battling depression. I wanted to do something. So, I thought, ‘I could cook a meal’”. She put a couple of posts on Facebook sites offering a free home-cooked meal, and she got replies right away.
“So I ordered buckets of food from Costco, made seven lasagna pans for people I didn’t know, drove around the city, and delivered these meals to strangers.”
Rhiannon found in addition to people wanting to receive free meals, many others wrote to ask her if they could also cook and deliver hot meals. From word of mouth and Facebook posts and sharing, Lasagna Love was born.
She stated “Both cooks and recipients share (on social media). The cook volunteers their time, pays for their own ingredients, and delivers the meal. I knew that the recipients would be grateful, but what came as a surprise is how much this program has meant to the generous cooks.
Initially, it was about feeding families. Somewhere along the way, that changed. It is evident to me now that this organization’s mission is actually about spreading kindness. Many recipients were so moved by getting dinner that they signed up to cook. Being kind to strangers had been a little lost before Covid hit. Such busy lives. After the pandemic came, things changed for everyone. Cooking lasagna and being kind to strangers has helped many during these challenging times. The widespread feeling of helping has given people a new purpose.
Today, the core mission of Lasagna Love is to feed families, spread kindness, and strengthen communities.
We do not judge anyone asking for a meal. Rich, poor, old, or sick — anyone can have personal reasons and tough circumstances. Lasagna mamas and papas try to help anyone who asks, if we can.
I just kept saying “yes” to anyone who asked, and I suppose I just said yes enough times, because here we are three years later, and we’ve fed 1.5 million people.” Plus, they have over 35,000 volunteers worldwide spreading kindness one lasagna at a time.
We set out to feed families in a time of need, but what we’ve realized is that the power of what we’re doing is so much more than putting a meal on the table. For these families that we deliver to, we’re restoring their faith and their hope: Their faith in their community’s desire to be there for them in a time of need, and their hope for a world where the driving force is authentic kindness.
A woman I shared a lasagna with two days ago broke down in tears right in front of me. Her expectations of her community are so low, that the idea that another human would reach out and offer something from the goodness of the heart was entirely unfamiliar. So many people feel alone in their struggles, they feel forgotten, and they feel ashamed to ask for help because they’ve been taught — or they’ve been shown — that asking for help is a weakness. We’re not just feeding families, many organizations can do that. What we’re able to do is inspire genuine hope, connection, and human kindness, and that has the power to transform communities.”
Rhiannon said, “Our ultimate vision is a world where Lasagna Love isn’t needed because neighborly kindness has been woven back into the fabric of our everyday lives.”
Once again, it’s astonishing the difference one person can make. Rhiannon Menn is an inspiration to us all. We’re so proud to have her in our MKRO family.
Thank you to everyone who sent in a nomination for the Kindness Award. We’re overwhelmed with all the nominations of truly amazing people. All of these kind-hearted people do so much to make our world a better place. So, thank you to everyone who took the time to write about the person who inspired you and we couldn’t agree more, they are incredible and we celebrate every one of them.
More about Jesse’s Paddle/The Jesse Klump Suicide Awareness and Prevention Program. Their objective is to end the threat of suicide in Worcester County (MD) and beyond through a program of outreach and education. This is a mission that MKRO supports wholeheartedly and we are so grateful for all the work they do to support mental health and suicide prevention initiatives.
Thank you to everyone at Jesse’s Paddle for all you do and for your very generous donation to MKRO so we can recognize and reward people who dedicate themselves to making our world a better place. (If you need help, please call 988.)
Is there someone who inspires you with their kindness? Nominate them for the Matt Kurtz Kindness Award of $250.
Do you have an act-of-kindness project you want to do but need help funding it? Submit your idea for the Matt Kurtz Kindness Grant of $500 and let us help you spread kindness.