As a youth growing up in the Bay Area of California, Michelle Brenner enjoyed big, traditional Sunday dinners with family. When lasagna was served, it usually accompanied an occasion of sorts and brought back warm memories. When she witnessed people buying store-bought, commercially made lasagnas as part of their pandemic meals, the Gig Harbor resident felt compelled to make an incredible offer via Facebook: She would make a lasagna free of charge for anyone who wanted one.
Eight weeks later, Brenner has made over 1,060 lasagnas, surpassing her original goal of making 1,000 total in eight weeks. Her small gesture has grown into a regional phenomenon. People order lasagnas to be sent to hospitals, fire fighters, senior centers, essential retailers, and even prisons. While Brenner says her lasagna may be no better or worse than others’ homemade lasagna, it comes right from her heart. Each pan has a bit of a different journey to reach its happy recipient, and Brenner is equally happy to continue making them.
“The lasagna is really only a small part of the story. The biggest part of the story is the connections I am making between people during this situation,” Brenner said. While she makes all the lasagna alone, other people who want to help do so by buying and delivering her supplies. More and more people are offering their support and help as she continues to provide delicious lasagnas to the community. Recently, the Gig Harbor Sportsman’s Club even offered her use of their commercial kitchen, which has improved Brenner’s capabilities immensely.
With the ingredients for each lasagna estimated at $16-19, depending on how successful her shopping in bulk is accomplished, Brenner hopes to raise money now that she has reached her goal of making 1,000 lasagnas. And as long as supplies continue to hold out, she can be found in her kitchen, spreading lasagna love. “Maybe this was my true calling. Something I was always meant to do. It took an awful thing to open this door.”
The Lasagna Lady