In the last few years, Generation Z, or “Generation Shift” has emerged as one of the most philanthropic, a population of givers leveraging their free time to create a kinder world. Recognized by their generous nature, resourcefulness, and digital savvy, an estimated 26.4% of 16-19 year-olds regularly volunteer. The estimate, equal to one-quarter of the world’s population, has been inspired to become the next generation of changemakers.
What has occurred in their lifetimes, different than other generations, to make them more prone to acts of goodwill and service?
Exposed in their youthful lifetimes to school shootings and global pandemics, Generation Zers were born into a culture that values social change. They’ve proven themselves resilient and interested in contributing to causes they believe will make a positive impact in their communities. Further, a LinkedIn study reported that Gen Z wants to ‘learn’ their way up the career ladder–thus presenting substantial opportunities for volunteer programs to utilize these dedicated humans to further their goals– while also providing the reverse benefit of instruction or training. Additionally, Gen Z respondents shared that volunteering boosts their confidence, mental health, and opens up additional pathways to establishing broader social circles and potentially, professional networks.
One of the most noted variables for Gen Z’s commitment to volunteerism is flexibility. The ability to volunteer from home or as their schedule allows means that any organization capable of offering said flexibility, will have a steady stream of support and youthful energy.
With a highly flexible volunteer model, Lasagna Love has been uniquely successful in casting a wide net across multiple generations, reporting more than 45,000 volunteers across its global volunteer ranks. The organization, which gained grassroots momentum at the start of the pandemic has, specifically in the last year, experienced a pronounced increase in youth participation.
Marc Farca, a recent Lasagna Love Star Chef recipient from San Diego, said that he enjoys helping his mother Karen make and deliver lasagna.
“I always have him available to help me cook lasagnas, deliver them with me, and assist me with all the processes because he loves to help and wants to improve our world. One of the lasagna recipients told me that her lasagna was better than the ones she ordered at restaurants, which Marc made by himself.”
The Girls Scouts of America too has become a steady and consistent source of volunteer groups within the Gen Z age demographic. Because of this, Lasagna Love collaborated with the organization to create and launch a specific “Lasagna Love Patch” given to Girl Scouts who volunteer with Lasagna Love in their community. High school student Julie Sparrow, who is a member of the Girl Scouts said, “We had a blast with the Lasagna Love Patch program! We baked five lasagnas and put together ten birthday boxes to donate to a local shelter in a large industrial kitchen. Our troop also shared an insightful discussion about what it would be like to live with food insecurity. I highly recommend involvement with Lasagna Love for troops of all ages.”
An obvious trend stemming from Gen Z is beginning to come into clear focus. The use of social media helps activists to drive progressive change. As such, the more youthful generations who grew up using and are seemingly tied to their digital social networks, have launched a new generation of givers and social activists who lead community campaigns, donate regularly to charitable causes, and volunteer for meaningful causes. With just one single Facebook post, Lasagna Love Founder Rhiannon Menn ignited a grassroots movement of kindness that grew from one mom delivering meals in her neighborhood, to thousands of lasagna chefs delivering meals across all 50 states of America, Australia and Canada. That post serves as proof of the power of social media and its ability to trigger action.
The future leaders, mentors, and role models amid Generation Shift/Gen Z ranks are today sowing the seeds for a world in which kindness is the norm. As participants in Lasagna Love’s self-proclaimed ‘army of affection,’ they are taking initial steps on their journey to contribute, while also stimulating dialogue about topics such as food insecurity, social awareness, spreading kindness, and ways to lift up a community in a flexible and easy way. To become a volunteer with Lasagna Love, follow this link for more information.