Ron’s grandparents grew up during the Depression. They had a four-room house his grandfather built with used lumber for a family of nine people. One winter in 1947, it caught on fire and burned down. With donations from the community, his family bought a railroad boxcar for $200 and put it on the same foundation.
“I grew up in that house along with my brother and sister. There were 12 of us living there at one time; 3 generations. We didn’t dwell on the lack of material goods,” Ron recalls. “My family was as rich in generosity and kindness as they were poor in worldly goods. It gives insight into what is really important. I learned some valuable lessons growing up.”
Shortly after starting at Mercy Hospital, Ron became a member of the American Culinary Federation (ACF), a national chef’s organization with hundreds of chapters throughout the US. One program of the ACF promotes childhood nutrition and hunger awareness. Chefs are encouraged to do their part to act as a force for positive change in their communities.
Ron started with presentations for local kindergarten and 1st graders, and a meal at the fire station. Then he hosted a non-perishable food drive at Mercy benefitting The Crisis Center Food Bank, collecting several large boxes of food. “When I delivered the food, I learned The Crisis Center distributed more than that in a single week,” Ron says. “I decided a donation from several organizations at the same time was a better answer.”
With the support of Mercy Iowa City and Jeff Braverman, President and owner of Hawkeye Foodservice Inc., they planned the first city-wide food drive in 1999.
For the next few years, Ron continued the annual food drive, meeting with volunteers, organizations, and civic-minded individuals in other communities and asking them to join the effort. The initiative, later named “Thanksgiving in July”, has grown considerably through his promotion and advocacy. Ron’s effort has expanded reach to other communities: Coralville, North Liberty, Fairfield, Muscatine, Tiffin/Clear Creek Amana, and the Quad Cities. All of the food and funds raised stay in those communities and provide much-needed support in the summer months when food donations are down and need is up.
Last year, 2016, marked an unprecedented success for Thanksgiving in July in Iowa City, raising 38,076 pounds of food donations and $31,177.42 in financial donations.
Ron was a force propelling the initiative forward, building year after year on success and meaningfully engaging other organizations and individuals in the community.
When it comes to thinking about getting involved, “Most people have a passion or a cause they care deeply about,” Ron says. Ron is a testament to what happens when those passions align with philanthropy and the amazing things that can happen as a result.
Community members can drop off food donations at these locations during the month of July:
Drop off locations:
- All Johnson County Hills Bank & Trust Company locations
- First Ave. HyVee (812 S. First Ave.)
- Waterfront HyVee (1720 Waterfront Drive)
- North Dodge HyVee (1201 N. Dodge Street)
- Fareway East (2765 Commerce Drive)
- Fareway West (2530 Westwinds Drive)
- New Pi Coop Iowa City (22 S. Van Buren Street)
- All Johnson County University of Iowa Community Credit Union locations
- OR drop off at the Food Bank during regular business hours, Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (1121 Gilbert Court)
Or give a financial contribution. Monetary donations allow us to maximize your impact and purchase food for our clients. Donating online is quick, easy, and secure.
- $35 feeds a family of five for one week
- $110 feeds two siblings for two months
- $250 feeds three children lunch everyday this summer