Lasagna is life. So when Michelle Brenner lost her job due to the pandemic, she decided to use an old family lasagna recipe and start baking for anyone on her Washington community that needed food—for free. So far, she’s made more than 1,275 trays of lasagna.
“I knew it was my time in my life to give back to the people who paved life’s path for me to have the 45 years of life that I’ve had,” Brenner told CNN.
Brenner, who was furloughed from work at a clothing store, started to get antsy in lockdown. The Gig Harbor resident decided to get work as a shopper for Instacart in order to help elderly members of the community. Then she noticed something interesting: most customers wanted frozen lasagna.
When she delivered the frozen foods to an elderly man, she was shocked to hear him say he had not had fresh food in nearly a month. She decided that had to change, and she started a lasagna making campaign. Using her grandmother’s recipe, Brenner started making lasagna—a lot of lasagna.
“Frozen lasagna is not a treat,” Brenner said. “I am not a fan of frozen lasagna. I’m very Italian.”
Brenner posted on Facebook that she would make lasagna for anyone and deliver it free of charge. When she received enough requests, she went to the store and spent her stimulus check on ingredients. Then, she made more than 130 lasagnas.
“The whole point of this is to spread that sense of community wherever we can through the comfort of lasagna,” she said. “So, I don’t want anybody to feel disincluded because reality is there are people out there who can’t afford a dollar.”
Brenner spends eight to 14 hours per day doing all the cooking herself. Initially, she was using her home for the cooking, but recently the Gig Harbor Sportsman’s club gave her free use of their commercial kitchen.
“Many of us go to work and want to go home right away… and I never had that feeling,” she said of her recent cooking endeavor.
Folks are grateful for Brenner’s cooking. And she’s happy to help families create the bond that happens when you share a meal.
“That’s a family meal, that’s time to sit together, that’s memories making, that’s conversations,” she said. “It’s something you’ll remember the rest of your life.”