Furloughed Woman Has Made More Than 1,275 Lasagnas For First Responders And Friends
Four months after being furloughed a Washington woman has become the ‘Lasagna Lady’ for friends, neighbours and first responders – providing her service free of charge, of course.
Michelle Brenner, 45, from Gig Harbor, wasn’t keen on sitting around during the pandemic. She took on a job as a personal shopper for Instacart, helping to deliver groceries to those in need in the local area.
From door to door, one order became increasingly frequent: frozen lasagna. Then, when a man in his nineties told her he hadn’t eaten fresh food in more than 50 days, Michelle had to take action – she dug out her grandmother’s lasagna recipe and got cooking.
Check out a clip of Michelle’s interview with Good Morning America below:
Michelle joked that she has ‘an issue with frozen foods in general… plus, I’m Italian’. However, when she found out about the lack of fresh food, ‘something triggered with me that I needed to do more’. After taking to her local Facebook group to offer up homemade lasagnas, ‘sure enough, people responded’.
After using her entire $1,200 stimulus check to buy all the ingredients, Michelle’s lasagna operation has soared beyond all expectations. From the first 130 lasagnas – distributed to anyone who wanted one at absolutely no cost – she’s since made 1,275 pans.
The little journey began with me delivering lasagnas at first, because people were very afraid to get out at that time. And as it grew I put a little pantry in my front yard and if I knew you were coming I’d put a lasagna out and you’d get it and never cross paths. In the very beginning I was cooking about 14 hours a day.
My grandmother loved to be in the kitchen and her love for food – just like myself – I’ve been in the kitchens for 90 days straight almost and I never felt out of place or tired, like at work, so there’s a love and passion there. And she had that.
In an interview with CNN, Michelle said people often ask if she’s tired with all the cooking. ‘I don’t have time to think about that, I have lasagna to make,’ she always replies.
The response in the community has been incredible. Firstly, the Gig Harbor Sportsmans Club allowed Michelle to use its commercial kitchen. ‘It’s a lot easier having the bigger space where I can actually bake more – I’ve done an average of 15 to 25 lasagnas a day,’ she said.
Then came the fundraisers. After amassing $5,000, she ‘set a goal of 1,000 lasagnas so we did another fundraiser, then we hit the thousand and that fundraiser ended. And low and behold the request for more lasagna is still there’. At the time of writing, there’s been more than $23,000 in donations.
Although, it’s about far more than just a tasty lasagna, as Michelle explained:
The connection here is community and people connecting with each other…. people say: ‘Oh she’s a hero.’ No, I’m not. It’s all the people that continue to believe in this movement – that together we’re all gonna support each other one way or another.
She’s seen ‘all walks of life’ in her lasagna mission, from exhausted front-line workers to grieving families who’ve lost loved ones to coronavirus. ‘I’ve seen more of the sad stories – but I see people wanting to support people in those times of need,’ she said.
However, ‘you know by giving somebody this lasagna that they’re gonna sit down with their family and they’re gonna have a meal. And you are providing that time, that gift of memories – it’s kind of priceless,’ Michelle said.
While very humbled and keen to urge that ‘just one person is capable of doing something that is so meaningful’, Michelle said ‘the lasagna is a bonus. The gift is the community choosing to support one another’.
It’s okay to not panic about everything going on in the world right now. LADbible and UNILAD’s aim with our campaign, Cutting Through, is to provide our community with facts and stories from the people who are either qualified to comment or have experienced first-hand the situation we’re facing. For more information from the World Health Organization, click here.