UPDATED with Bezos donation: Amazon’s Jeff Bezos has committed to donate $100 million and Oprah Winfrey $1 million to support those facing food insecurity due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Bezos’ donation to Feeding America is the largest single gift in the charity’s history.
“Even in ordinary times, food insecurity in American households is an important problem, and unfortunately COVID-19 is amplifying that stress significantly,” Bezos said in announcing the donation to the Chicago-based organization. “Millions of Americans are turning to food banks during this time.”
Winfrey’s donation to support the America’s Food Fund launch adds to another $9 million she’s donating to other food causes, an incredibly generous commitment for a single individual.
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EARLIER: Leonardo DiCaprio, Laurene Powell Jobs and Apple, and the Ford Foundation have helped launch America’s Food Fund with $12 million in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The initiative will be hosted by social fundraising platform GoFundMe and will benefit World Central Kitchen and Feeding America.
Earlier this week, Oprah Winfrey discussed the initiative’s launch with Chef José Andrés and Feeding America CEO Claire Babineaux-Fontenot on the Apple TV+ series Oprah Talks COVID-19.
Per the announcement, America’s Food Fund will address the issue of food access in the U.S. and provide funding relief to both organizations in furthering their missions to feed the country’s most vulnerable populations impacted by COVID-19, including children who rely on school lunch programs, low-income families, the elderly, and individuals facing job disruptions.
Andrés founded World Central Kitchen in 2010 and since then it has been at the forefront of urgently providing meals to people in need in the wake of man-made and natural disasters around the world. WCK began their COVID-19 relief efforts by deploying their food first responders to distribute fresh meals to cruise ship passengers under quarantine, and have since expanded this mission to feed vulnerable communities and frontline medical professionals through mobile distributions, restaurant partners and more.
“In times of need, a plate of food is both vital nourishment and a message of hope from the community, that we care and we’re here to make sure that tomorrow, things will be better,” said Andrés. “Now more than ever – for our frontline heroes, our most vulnerable neighbors, and our out-of-work restaurant workers – WCK is prepared to make sure that food is part of the solution.”
“On behalf of Feeding America, I would like to thank Leonardo DiCaprio, Laurene Powell Jobs and Tim Cook for their generosity and support, which will help our network of food banks provide food and other resources to communities impacted by this crisis,” said Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, CEO of Feeding America. “Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 37 million people in this country did not have consistent access to nutritious meals – including 11 million children and 5.5 million seniors. These numbers are quickly rising, and it is critical that we rally together as a nation to support our neighbors during this time of great need.”
Feeding America is the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization, serving more than 40 million Americans annually through their network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs with a presence in every community in the United States. Their COVID-19 Response Fund was launched to help enable member food banks with the ability to secure the resources they need to continue operations, while modifying their distribution methods in accordance with health and safety regulations during this time of highly increased demand.
Said DiCaprio: “In the face of this crisis, organizations like World Central Kitchen and Feeding America have inspired us all with their unwavering commitment to feed the most vulnerable people in need. I thank them for their tireless work on the frontlines, they deserve all of our support.”
Said Powell Jobs: “We are in the midst of a national emergency, and it is vital we prioritize the most urgent needs. With millions losing their jobs and programs like school lunches in jeopardy, making sure Americans aren’t going hungry is of the utmost urgency. America’s Food Fund supports excellent programs that are prepared to aid in the crisis now.”
Said Apple CEO Tim Cook: “No one can be well if they’re not well fed, and we can only overcome this crisis if we make sure that every person has the essentials that they need to care for themselves, their families and the vulnerable people in their lives. World Central Kitchen and Feeding America do heroic work, and if there is any lesson in this time that we must spend apart, it’s that we are stronger and more resilient when we support one another.”
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