Group of Virginia cooks breaks out new recipes to help Afghan refugees feel at home

Volunteers from Lasagna Love donated meals for Afghan refugees in Northern Virginia. (WTOP/Valerie Bonk)

Volunteers from Lasagna Love donated meals for Afghan refugees in Northern Virginia. (WTOP/Valerie Bonk)

Volunteers from Lasagna Love donated meals for Afghan refugees in Northern Virginia. (WTOP/Valerie Bonk)

Volunteers from Lasagna Love donated meals for Afghan refugees in Northern Virginia. (WTOP/Valerie Bonk)

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The Northern Virginia chapter of Lasagna Love, a nonprofit that brings comfort food to those who need it, switched gears Sunday to help spread its mission to Afghan refugees.

Volunteers carrying dishes of food got out of cars lined up along a street in Vienna and walked up to a table set up for donations. They were delivering the results of new recipes they tried to help make Afghan refugees feel at home.

“We decided to take it a step above and try to make them feel loved by cooking foods they are familiar with,” Eileen Scherzinger, a regional leader for Lasagna Love, said.

Scherzinger came up with the idea to try the new recipes. The team of volunteers normally cooks lasagna for those who need a warm meal.

“I just love that we’re able to show them that American citizens here, you know, we’re gonna welcome them and make them feel good about coming here and a little bit safer, hopefully.”

She had 25 volunteers show up at her house with authentic Halal meals.

The meals will then be delivered to a central location where they will be able to be picked up by Afghan refugees living in the area.

“Everybody needs to eat every day. And I thought ‘you know what, what better way to show our way of our loving kindness by cooking food for them,'” Scherzinger said.

Volunteers showed up Sunday and brought their meals and talked about the challenge and reward of trying new recipes.

“It is just is so heartwarming that our neighbors can come together and just say, ‘What do you need? We’re here,'” said volunteer Melynda Benlemlih.

The meals will feed about two dozen Afghan refugees in northern Virginia for an entire day. The meals included breakfast, lunch, dinner and a snack.

“Being in Northern Virginia, there’s so many dynamic things going on around us and stepping out as a community and helping really feels great,” Benlemlih said

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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