Health and Healthcare Systems

Leonardo DiCaprio launches food fund for communities hit by COVID-19

Leonardo DiCaprio attends the 92nd Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 9, 2020.

Leonardo DiCaprio teamed up with Apple to launch America's Food Fund. Image: REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Josephine Moulds
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  • America’s Food Fund hopes to raise $15 million for vulnerable communities.
  • It aims to provide reliable access to food across the United States.
  • Oprah Winfrey is among the high profile donors to the fund.

Leonardo DiCaprio is helping to launch a food fund for communities impacted by the COVID-19 coronavirus, part of a wave of philanthropic efforts to ease the damage inflicted by the worsening pandemic. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, for example, announced Thursday he has donated $100 million to Feeding America, which has a network of food banks across the US.

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DiCaprio has teamed up with Apple, the philanthropist Laurene Powell Jobs, and the Ford Foundation to raise $15 million to support low-income families, the elderly, children who rely on free school meals and people facing job disruptions across the US. In the past two weeks, around 10 million Americans lost their jobs.

America’s Food Fund raised $12.6 million in just one day. High profile donors include Oprah Winfrey, who gave $1 million to the fund, on top of $9 million she has donated to other food charities.

Increase in weekly unemployment claims across the US.
10 million people in the US lost their jobs in the past 2 weeks.

The fundraisers write on their GoFundMe page: “Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 37 million people struggled to know where their next meal might come from on a daily basis, a number that we are seeing rise at an exponential rate. We have an opportunity to come together to support our neighbours in this time of critical need.”

The fund will support two of the biggest food charities in the US: World Central Kitchen (WCK) and Feeding America. WCK was set up by the chef José Andrés to provide meals to people in the wake of disasters around the world.

He said: “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. Now more than ever – for our front line heroes, our most vulnerable neighbours, and our out-of-work restaurant workers – WCK is prepared to make sure that food is part of the solution.”

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Bezos announced his donation to Feeding America on Thursday. He said in a post on Instagram: “Even in ordinary times, food insecurity in American households is an important problem, and unfortunately COVID-19 is amplifying that stress significantly. Millions of Americans are turning to food banks during this time.” He encouraged others to give to the charity, saying: "They’d be excited and grateful for donations of any size."

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