When families are going through a hard time, this New Milford volunteer helps bring them lasagna

NEW MILFORD — When going through a rough time, sometimes a hot, fresh meal is the best medicine.

New Milford resident Danielle Weisberg is regional leader of Lasagna Love, a nonprofit organization that provides a free lasagna meal delivered to the doorstep of anyone who is struggling, whether financially or emotionally — no questions asked.

The mission of Lasagna Love is to “feed families, spread kindness, and strengthen communities,” its website said.

Weisberg first became involved with Lasagna Love in November of 2020, after being laid off from her job as an event planner due to COVID-19.

“I just felt a little bit helpless and a little bit bored and I was just trying to find an outlet to help directly in my community,” said Weisberg, a mother of a 3-year-old son Everett, with her husband Andrew Weisberg, an attorney.

Additionally, she said she wanted to give back.

“I was lucky that I only had one family member get COVID and his case was pretty mild,” she said. “Because we were in a pretty good position during the pandemic, I felt like I needed to do something to help other people that were having more trouble than we were.”

She became a volunteer chef and has never looked back.

Volunteer chefs make the meals in their own kitchen and pay for all costs involved in their recipe, as well as the cost of cooking supplies and gas. They can make whatever recipe of lasagna they want and can volunteer as often as they want.

Those who are requesting a meal fill out a form asking what food allergies they may have. They are then matched with a volunteer chef who coordinates meal preparation and delivery. All meals, which are usually enough to feed a family, are delivered contactless. The meal is delivered within the week that it was requested. A person can make a repeat request every 28 days.

Weisberg said it feels great knowing “I’m making something for somebody right in New Milford.”

Aside from New Milford, Weisberg has also delivered to Brookfield and Danbury.

Weisberg became regional leader for Lasagna Love in July after the prior leader left and the regional director for Connecticut reached out to her and asked if she had a desire to “do a little more,” she said.

She puts in about five to 10 hours a week in her role, which involves answering emails and helping other volunteers with different issues that come up.

She also helps spread the word about the organization.

“Facebook has been a good way to do outreach,” she said.

Weisberg, who manages over 100 volunteers in Fairfield County, said Lasagna Love has grown in her coverage area. When she first started in her role, she was getting 20 meal requests a week.

Now, she gets about 50.

The needs of those who have made meal requests has also grown, she said.

Initially, most requests were from those directly affected by the pandemic. Now, most who request meals are going through other kinds of stress, such as a job loss or even a first day back to school for a family with kids.

“This is an ongoing resource people can use as another resource for food,” she said.

Lasagna was initially chosen as the meal to make “because it’s a fairly simple thing to make that a lot of people like and it can feed a whole family,” Weisberg said. “Also, it’s a pretty hearty, comforting dish,” she said.

Volunteers, however, can make other dishes aside from lasagna, as long as that is communicated to the requestor.

Weisberg said she would like to see more people in her coverage area request meals.

“We have a lot of amazing volunteers that really want to cook,” she said.

Toward that end, she has cold called different organizations to see if they are interested in putting up flyers or handing out postcards.

On National Lasagna Day in July, Weisberg helped bake and deliver 20 lasagnas to the Children’s Center of New Milford, which were given out to families at the center who needed it.

Additionally, the Stamford Senior Center will be working with Weidberg in a few weeks, giving out individual portions of lasagna to seniors to take home.

Weisberg has also reached out to Camella’s Cupboard and New Milford Social Services, giving out postcards to pass out to those who can benefit from Lasagna Love.

As a regional leader, Weisberg said she has learned to get out of her comfort zone in being “bold about spreading the word making people understand what Lasagna Love is about.”

She said she finds it especially rewarding when, after making a delivery, she gets a text from the person who received the meal, saying “It’s so nice to not have to cook tonight. I finally got to sit down with my family and enjoy a meal.”

Lasagna Love, which was founded in California in March of 2020, is now in all 50 states as well as Australia and Canada. The nonprofit delivers from 2,500 to 3,500 lasagnas each week, utilizing over 20,000 volunteers. Those interested in receiving a meal or who would like to recommend one be sent to someone else, can sign up on the organization’s website, lasagnalove.org.

sfox@milfordmirror.com 203-948-9802