By Dillon Thomas

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – Thousands of Coloradans have been fed a warm homemade meal thanks to complete strangers with a heart for community, service and lasagna. Lasagna Love, a nonprofit that originated in Massachusetts, is now helping Coloradans make it through tough times largely brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve fed over 17,000 families nationwide,” said Jeff Haseltine, Regional Leader for Lasagna Love.

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The idea first started when the founder of Lasagna Love wanted to make a meal for her neighbors during the COVID-19 pandemic. Quickly more demand was discovered and more volunteers were joining the movement. Nearly a year later the nonprofit is now operating in many states across the United States.

“There are a lot of people in Colorado that are not doing as well as we are and are not as lucky as we are,” said Tenaya Newkirk, a volunteer. “It’s a nice thing for us to be able to do.”

Volunteers, known as Lasagna Mommas and Lasagna Papas, often make the meals using their own money, supplies, kitchens and time. Those in need simply put in a request through LasagnaLove.org, and if there is a volunteer within their area a meal is scheduled with no further explanation needed for why the request was made.

CBS4’s Dillon Thomas learned many of the more than 130 volunteers in Colorado have been impacted by COVID-19’s economic downfall themselves, yet still wanted to participate.

“My hours got cut at my job,” Newkirk said.

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“I actually lost my job because of COVID. So, I have lots of time on my hands,” Haseltine said. “My biggest challenge with unemployment was boredom. So, it gave me something to do. And it was something meaningful and purposeful.”

Volunteers in Colorado can be found in just about every major city with more joining every month. Ability to provide a meal is subject to a volunteer living within reasonable traveling range.

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“We stretch all the way from Pueblo to Fort Collins, all the way west on I-70 to Grand Junction,” Haseltine said.

While there may be other meals which are less time consuming to make, volunteers told CBS4 they were thrilled to dedicate their time to making meals for complete strangers.

“I’m Italian on my mother’s side, so lasagna is easy for me,” Newkirk said.

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Haseltine said the Lasagna Love team in Colorado has already served thousands of meals.

Just because the movement was born out of a need to help those quarantining from COVID-19 exposure, some have now used it to help them get by through other difficult times unrelated to the pandemic.

Because Lasagna Love does not ask for specific reasoning why a meal has been requested, Haseltine said he believed the organization would last for years to come while helping out people going through unique challenges at any given time.

“I’m sure we will last well beyond the pandemic, there is always going to be a need out there,” Haseltine said.

“It’s nice to be able to support your community and help people in it,” Newkirk said.

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If you would like to volunteers, or need assistance from Lasagna Love simply visit their website, LasagnaLove.org.

Dillon Thomas