Frightened by her job, she is now a ‘Lasagna lady’ who prepares free meals for first responders and friends

Frightened by her job, she is now a ‘Lasagna lady’ who prepares free meals for first responders and friends

So far, she has made more than 1,275 bowls of lasagna, for friends, neighbors, first responders and anyone who needs a good fresh meal – without anyone charging them.

For Brenner it is the love of love and it is not planned to stop.

“I knew it was time in my life to go back to the people who paved my life path to have the 45 years of life I had,” she told CNN.

Brenner, who moved to Gig Harbor, Washington, about six years ago, after hitting Covid-19, said goodbye to a job at a menswear store. She quickly realized she wasn’t very good at sitting.

She said she decided she wanted to help older members of her community and those who couldn’t go out and shop on their own because of the pandemic.

So she signed up to work as a customer for Instacart. She spent only two days working with the grocery delivery app – but during that time she noticed one item that customers were constantly looking for: frozen lasagna.

One of those customers was a man in his nineties. Brenner said she delivered frozen lasagna and other items to him, and he admitted to her that he had not had fresh food for nearly a month and a half.

That moment inspired Brenner to buy groceries and pick up the ingredients herself to make her family a fresh lasagna based on her grandmother’s recipe.

“Frozen lasagna is not a treat,” she said. “I’m not a fan of frozen lasagna. I’m very Italian.”

After her dish came out of the oven, Brenner jumped on Facebook to do what many others did during quarantine: Share your cooked meal on social media. In his post, Brenner offered to make her lasagna and deliver it for free to anyone who wants it.

When she received enough requests, she went to the store and spent her $ 1,200 on the incentive checking the ingredients and started cooking.

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She made more than 130 lasagna, and distributed them for free.

“The point of all this is to spread that sense of community wherever we can through the comfort of lasagna,” she said. “So I don’t want anyone to feel misunderstood because the reality is that there are people who can’t afford a single dollar.”

Surgery for one woman

This is an operation for one woman. Brenner spends eight to 14 hours a day doing all the cooking herself. She spent the last 90 days working without a day off.

“A lot of us go to work and want to go home right away … and I’ve never had that feeling,” she said of her recent cooking endeavor.

Brenner began the operation at her home, pushing her kitchen to its limits and setting up a contactless food pantry in her front yard.

Food ingredient Michelle Brenner set up in her backyard

She recently said that she was given a free commercial kitchen at the Gig Harbor Sportsman Club, which allowed her to increase her business.

The process of distributing lasagna allowed Brenner to see first hand the impact of her work.

One family, she said, cried when she arrived on Easter because without lasagna and other treats they told her they didn’t have enough money to celebrate the holidays this year. Another man Brenner fed told her he had recently lost both his father and young son to Covid-19. One woman told Brenner that she donated lasagna with nurses who cared for the mother in Alzheimer’s ward.

Brenner said she feels that lasagna provides her with more than just food: it creates an opportunity for family members to connect.

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“It’s a family meal. It’s time to sit together, it’s creating memories, it’s conversations,” she said. “It’s something you’ll remember for the rest of your life.”

Michelle Brenner

Although she distributes lasagna for free, many in her community wanted to join. They decided to organize a series of funds raised via the Internet to help Brenner continue the operation. Over the past nine weeks, Brenner said they raised more than $ 23,000 for her – which translates to 1,275 bowls of lasagna.

While Brenner doesn’t know what will happen when the furrow is over, she said she has no plans to stop creating lasagna for others. She called the experience of creating lasagna for her community “a dream come true.”

“People say‘ are you tired? “” Brenner said, “and I’m leaving,” you know, I don’t have time to think about it, I have to make lasagna. “

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