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How a one-woman nonprofit scaled to deliver thousands of meals to people in need

Lasagna Love uses automation to focus on what matters most

By Deb Tennen · October 23, 2020
A hero image of a woman and young girl making lasagnas in a home kitchen

At the beginning of the pandemic, Rhiannon Menn was feeling helpless. She was looking for a way to support the families in her community while still following stay-at-home orders and keeping her family safe.

"My daughter and I started making and delivering meals to any mom who was struggling—economically, emotionally—by posting to local moms groups on Facebook," she says.

The response was overwhelming.

What started as Rhiannon and her toddler making a few meals has since turned into a national grassroots movement with over 2,000 volunteers: Lasagna Love.

From a single sheet pan to a successful nonprofit

Rhiannon never expected this project to grow beyond her kitchen, but dozens of people on Facebook immediately responded, saying that they wanted to help. Within a few months, the project had grown organically to over 70 volunteers—who Rhiannon calls Lasagna Mamas—across the country.

And now, just seven months after delivering her first lasagna, Lasagna Love is a robust network of families helping their local communities. Anyone can sign up to be a Lasagna Mama: you decide how many lasagnas you want to make each week, and you'll be matched up with a local family. If you don't cook, you can still get involved by sponsoring a Lasagna Mama with a monthly donation or making a one-time donation to Lasagna Love.

Lasagna Love has helped over 4,000 struggling families all over the country, from Lakeside, California to Des Moines, Iowa to Boston, Massachusetts. And the impact of every single delivery is incredible. One recipient said that the lasagna she received was the first food she'd had in two days—she had been giving up her own food to make sure her kids and grandkids had enough to eat.

A note from one of Lasagna Love

As Lasagna Love continues to help families nationwide, they've also begun working with universities, companies, and other nonprofits to increase their reach to as many communities as possible.

Making more time for making more lasagnas

Lasagnas made by Lasagna Love

Once Rhiannon realized that Lasagna Love was more than just a personal contribution, she knew she needed to put some systems in place to be able to scale—and that's when she turned to Zapier.

In order to onboard new Lasagna Mamas, Rhiannon had been manually sending out links and welcome emails, and entering information into their database. With Zapier, she was able to automate the whole process.

Each Lasagna Mama signs up online via a Squarespace form, which populates a spreadsheet with raw data. That's the initial trigger, and Zapier takes care of the rest:

  • Zapier automatically creates a personalized Google Sheet for each Lasagna Mama, which they use for assignments.

  • Zapier automatically creates a custom Bitly link that they can use if they need to send a text message to a Lasagna Mama.

  • Zapier automatically creates a custom welcome email that includes a link to the personalized Google Sheet. It leverages lookup tables to their ZIP code database, so it can cc: their regional leader in case the Lasagna Mama has questions.

  • Zapier automatically reorders the information and sends it into their master Lasagna Mama database, in a format that they use to assign families at the cadence preferred by the Lasagna Mama.

It sounds complicated, but it all runs in the background while Rhiannon focuses on getting more volunteers—and continuing to deliver food to local families in need.

According to Rhiannon, Zapier has saved her over 200 hours onboarding new Lasagna Mamas. And what does she do with the time she saves? "We grow, and we feed more families," she tells us. "Which is our whole mission."

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  • Google Sheets
  • Squarespace

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