'Lasagna Mama' making home-cooked meals for struggling families 'felt the drive to give'

'I felt helpless... and I thought there has to be something I can do'
Posted at 2:20 PM, Jan 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-28 17:31:46-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- As the pandemic rages on, volunteers in Central Virginia are banding together to help put home-cooked meals on the table for struggling families.

Erica Mitchell spends much of her down time in the kitchen making lasagna, but not for herself -- for neighbors in need.

"If you think of the ultimate comfort dish that you're going to eat on for a few days, it's lasagna." said Mitchell. "And lasagna is love."

Mitchell is a volunteer, or Lasagna Mama, with Lasagna Love. It's a national grassroots movement where anyone impacted by COVID-19 can request a tray of lasagna, no questions asked.

A volunteer on standby then cooks a warm meal and delivers it right to their door.

"With the pandemic, I felt helpless because I saw all these people around me in our communities that have lost their jobs, lost their homes," said Mitchell. "They can't pay rent or mortgage, and I thought there has to be something I can do."

That includes people like Jessica Rich.

"It's extremely difficult to find a place to live now," said Rich.

Rich is all too familiar with COVID's fury.

She lost her apartment during the pandemic, and her mother lost her home a couple months later. Her family was left with no choice but to move into a motel.

"Most hotels and motels do not have an oven, so we're always eating dry food or anything that can be heated up in the microwave," Rich explained.

So when she came across a social media post about Lasagna Love, she signed her family up.

"The tray of lasagna actually lasted two days for us, and our volunteer, because you know we're in a motel, provided us with paper plates, plastic silverware, garlic bread to go with it, as well as individual slices of chocolate cake," Rich said.

As for Mitchell, she says volunteering has worked wonders for her, ever since her first delivery.

"They were just so grateful for a meal, just a simple pan of lasagna," said Mitchell. "I've become more positive, more optimistic, and I've really felt the drive to give and to give more."

Mitchell is now the volunteer leader for Central Virginia and is calling on more people to join her in this mission. Click here to sign up to be a volunteer or to request a lasagna.

Know of a good news story happening in your community? Click here to email and the CBS 6 News team.

❤️Need something to lift your spirits? Discover how Virginians are working together.