IOWA FALLS, Iowa — If someone is sick or unable to help themselves, Ron Hornung is always ready to lend a helping hand.
Whether it’s a Thanksgiving dinner or making up chicken and noodles for someone who is under the weather, Hornung is always ready to help people out with his cooking. He said it’s something he learned at a young age from his mother.
“She did a lot of volunteering and giving meals to people,” Hornung said. “I just carried that on.”
Hornung said his mother would enter state fair contests when he was a kid, and one year her cinnamon rolls won grand champion. He remembered that Bing Crosby’s wife, Kathryn, was a judge.
He makes sure people have something to celebrate during the holidays.
“There are a lot of people who are in need of food, especially at the holiday times,” he said. “I make sure they have something at Christmas or Thanksgiving.”
And he said helping people during COVID has been important because many people were closed in their house while quarantining. He and his wife Cate would make meals and ring people’s doorbells so they could come out and pick it up and not risk any exposures.
Hornung spent 41 years working for Alliant Energy, traveling through central Iowa, while Cate worked for 33 years as a kindergarten teacher. Cate grew up on a farm near Independence, Iowa, and the couple has always been around agriculture.
Cate said helping people came naturally to her husband and, when they would have excess from their own meals, it made sense for someone to make use of it.
“When he cooks, we have enough for the neighborhood. It’s hard to cook just for the two of us,” she said. “We didn’t want to throw any away, so we thought about who we could take it to, and it grew from there.”
Chicken and noodles is one of Hornung’s personal favorite meals to make for others, he said, as it’s a “comfort food,” especially when someone is sick. Cate said one of his most requested treats is banana bars, and when she would bring them into the school for other teachers, they were a major hit.
“They said you can’t just have one,” Cate said. “If we take those somewhere, they want the recipe. We’ve given out that recipe so many times.”
When looking at a meal, Hornung likes to keep things simple. He said he’ll watch a cooking show on TV and they’ll use spices you can’t find in the area or most people don’t know about.
“The food looks delicious, but there’s 20 different spices they put in things,” he said. “I’d never do anything like that, I can’t imagine cooking like that. It would be a pain in the butt to do those spices.”