A woman furloughed from her job at a menswear store in Gig Harbor, Washington, decided to turn to her favorite comfort food for help.
Michelle Brenner, 45, used what she had to make a big pan of lasagna using her grandmother’s recipe. Then, when she was out shopping for her neighbor’s frozen lasagna, she said it could not compete with hers, the Washington Post reported.
At that moment, she got on her community Facebook page and wrote that she would gladly prepare her homemade lasagna by request.
“Hello favorite friends — I delivered a ton of frozen family-size lasagnas today,” Brenner wrote. “Now, this is not a problem by any means, lol. But you have a die-hard, full Italian lasagna lover living in your town.”
“If any of you want some fresh homemade, no calorie counting lasagna, please let me know, and I will gladly prepare it,” she wrote.
Brenner used her $1,200 stimulus check to buy ingredients to make the comfort food, and the requests to make it started pouring in.
A retired neighbor was the first to request the dish, followed by an out-of-work friend. After that, so many people started showing up that Brenner lost track.
Nearly three months and 1,200 dishes later, Brenner is still spending eight hours a day, seven days a week boiling noodles, cooking ground beef, mixing tomato sauce, and layering Parmesan, ricotta, and mozzarella cheese.
She mainly feeds people in her community, from healthcare workers to single parents going without paychecks.
“The world as we know it is falling apart, but my two little hands are capable of making a difference,” she said. “I can’t change the world, but I can make lasagna.”
When the requests for free lasagna started piling up, the president of the Gig Harbor Sportsman’s Club offered up its kitchen for her to use to cook the dish.
“We saw what a great thing she was doing, and we have this nice commercial kitchen that wasn’t being used because of covid,” said Le Rodenberg, 73, the club’s president.
After the first 60 lasagna giveaways, Brenner started a Facebook fundraiser that quickly raised more than $10,000 — enough for 500 dishes. People donated what they could when they picked up their orders.
She expects to return to her job at some point this summer but said she will still make time for her beloved lasagna.
Brenner is not the first person to turn her cooking passion into something productive during the coronavirus. Lynn Minor, of Phoenix, Arizona, was able to turn her career around into a successful soul food business after she lost her job due to the coronavirus pandemic.