Everyday Heroes: Amelia Hard

Everyday Heroes: Amelia Hard
PORTLAND, Ore. - She's been called one of the most power-packed anti-hunger advocates in the country.

Amelia Hard created a program that now generates tens of thousands of dollars for the hungry.

We caught up with Hard at a cooking class in Northwest Portland.

Food is never far from her mind. Not for herself - but for others.

Her quest really began in the 1980s when she and her husband owned Genoa restaurant in Portland. The homeless population was really growing.

"They began to show up at the back door of the restaurant asking for food, and it's not in my nature to turn people away when they ask me for food," she said.

So she'd pass out to-go boxes full of food for the homeless. Eventually, she realized she needed something more organized.

She heard about a program on the East Coast that used chefs to do fundraisers for hunger relief. In no time, "Chef's Night Out" in Portland was born. It made $2,000 its first year. Now 22 years later and called "Taste of the Nation," it makes more than a $100,000 - all for the hungry.

Oregon Food Bank executive director Rachel Bristol lights up talking about Hard: "She is one of the most power packed anti-hunger advocates in our country."

And Bristol would know. Hard teaches nutrition classes at the Oregon Food Bank headquarters to people on food assistance. It's a six-week commitment each time.

"All I can point to is that it just feels so good to do it," Hard said. "I really miss it when I can't fit these classes into my schedule."

And she's setting a positive example for others.

When we visited the Oregon Food Bank, we ran into some students following Hard's lead. We found the fourth grade class from the International School volunteering by packing pasta all for people who can't afford to buy their next meal.

Hard tells us it feels good to see these kids learn to help others.

"Well, what it says to me is there's a whole new generation of people coming up who are ready to step up and do what needs to be done," Hard said.

And she is far from done. The nutrition classes will continue and her efforts to fight hunger - every way possible - will go on, especially in this dire time of need.

"The bottom line on hunger is that hunger is about poverty, and until we solve the issue of disparity in income in this country - we're going to have hunger," she said.