Once a month Brookfield resident Martha Kasten and her husband, Joe Fosselman, cook lasagna and deliver it to a food-insecure family as part of a growing nationwide organization called Lasagna Love.
Lasagna Love was started nearly a year ago by San Diego resident Rhiannon Menn, who last March was looking for a way to help out during the pandemic and cooked a lasagna and took it to a neighbor.
Menn, the founder of the Good to Mama website, wanted to spread love and kindness and founded the Lasagna Love organization. The movement has spread nationwide and now has grown to about 15,000 volunteers who cook and deliver upwards of 4,000 meals a week.
Kasten found about Lasagna Love in November after reading a story about the organization in the Chicago Tribune.
“I jumped on it right away, because I thought it was a really great idea,” Kasten said.
Kasten and her husband are both opera singers. Fosselman is part of Lyric Opera of Chicago chorus and is also a voice coach, so the couple has had a lot of free time during the pandemic.
Lasagna Love works by matching up volunteers with families in need.
“They match you up with a local family and you contact them and then find out when they would like a delivery and take it to them,” Kasten said. “I try to do one once a month.”
Kasten says she likes the personal connection she gets by knowing whom she is making the lasagna for and delivering it, usually in a contactless method, to their door.
“It feels homey,” Kasten said. “It feels like it’s a connection one to one. Even if the only connection you have is making something for someone who’s a stranger, it just feels like there’s this actual personal connection in a way, because I take it right to their home.”
Most of the families she has been cooking for have lived in Berwyn. Kasten and Fosselman typically team up with the cooking and the delivery.
Kasten said that she is no great cook and, until now, usually only made lasagna once a year on Christmas when she popped a Stouffers lasagna in the oven, because she and her husband were usually busy singing at Christmas church services.
“I have to have a goal, a reason to cook, beyond it’s just dinner time,” Kasten said. “It’s kind of nice to know you have this goal, of this family that needs your help and really will appreciate it. It’s just something I can do. I’ve got the time and I’ve got the love.”
Having a family to cook for has motivated Kasten. While cooking for a family in need she also makes a lasagna for herself, her husband and her 19-year-old son, a college student living at home this year. She also makes a lasagna her 22-year-old daughter, a college student who lives in in Chicago.
“To be honest, I thought it would get me to make some meals,” Kasten said.
When delivering her lasagnas, Kasten likes to add a little something extra, maybe a toy or a dish towel. She said that she feels that she gets as much out of it as the family that receives the food.
“It makes you feel so good to do it,” Kasten said.
Those who wish to get involved with Lasagna Love can get more information and sign up at www.lasagnalove.org.