Every week, Victoria Scott makes dinner for people she doesn’t know.
As a volunteer chef with an international effort called Lasagna Love, the Dubuque resident bakes three to five lasagnas each week and delivers them to local residents who have requested a hot meal.
“For whatever reason, they would like a lasagna delivered,” Scott said. “It’s nice to be a part of that and to play a role in someone else’s dinner,”
The Lasagna Love initiative started in San Diego in March 2020 and since has become a nonprofit operating in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, recently expanding to Australia and Canada. More than 100,000 lasagnas have been delivered in that time, with more than 20,000 volunteers now baking and distributing meals to neighbors in need.
Scott, who recently moved to Dubuque from California, is helping launch the local Lasagna Love movement. As regional leader for the Dubuque area, she conducts outreach and recruitment efforts and matches chefs with individuals who have requested lasagnas.
Of course, she also bakes and distributes dishes of her own.
“It’s a bit addicting once you get going,” she said, laughing.
Scott said individuals can request a lasagna for any reason, whether that be financial hardship, food insecurity or overwhelmed parents who would like a night off from cooking.
Chefs follow their own lasagna recipes, sometimes tailoring it to the dietary preferences or allergies of recipients. Scott said volunteers can offer other meals — she has delivered chicken dishes in the past — but lasagna is the program’s staple supper.
Currently, the Dubuque area has three volunteer chefs, a number Scott hopes to expand.
Michele Olson, of Hazel Green, Wis., is a new chef. After a Facebook friend in another state posted about her work with Lasagna Love, Olson decided to sign up.
“I didn’t know how long it would take to get a match, because I didn’t know how many people in the area even knew about Lasagna Love, ... but I got a match my second week,” she said.
On Sunday, she was scheduled to go to Darlington, Wis., to deliver her first lasagna.
Volunteers can bake and deliver lasagnas according to their schedule — just one time, once a month or multiple pans per week. Olson has signed up for one lasagna each week and is open to doing more if needed.
“Lasagna Love was a way to provide love and kindness through a home-baked meal, and what’s better than that?” she said.
Scott said needs that arose during the COVID-19 pandemic played a role in the creation of Lasagna Love, but she believes the initiative will persist beyond that.
“That need has always been there,” she said. “I think this (program) is here to stay.”