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Leonardo DiCaprio helps launch $12M coronavirus relief food fund

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Leonardo DiCaprio will help launch America’s Food Fund, which has already raised $12 million to help communities impacted by the novel coronavirus.

The organization said Thursday that the funds will be aimed to help low-income families, the elderly, individuals facing job disruptions and children who rely on school lunch programs.

The food fund will work with hunger relief organizations World Central Kitchen and Feeding America.

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Leonardo DiCaprio arrives at the 77th annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Sunday, Jan. 5.

Leonardo DiCaprio arrives at the 77th annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Sunday, Jan. 5. (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

DiCaprio serves as a co-founder of America’s Food Fund with philanthropist Laurene Powell Jobs. Apple and the Ford Foundation are also providing money to help launch the new initiative.

“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," DiCaprio said in a statement. “I thank them for their tireless work on the frontlines, they deserve all of our support.”

On Thursday, Oprah Winfrey announced a $1 million donation to the fund and $10 million in total to feed the hungry during the crisis.

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In this Tuesday, March 17, 2020, photo Patrick Minor loads food onto a delivery truck at the Des Moines Area Religious Council food pantry in Des Moines, Iowa. With the new coronavirus leaving many people at least temporarily out of work, food banks and pantries across the U.S. are scrambling to meet an expected surge in demand, even as older volunteers have been told to stay home and calls for social distancing have complicated efforts to package and distribute food. 

In this Tuesday, March 17, 2020, photo Patrick Minor loads food onto a delivery truck at the Des Moines Area Religious Council food pantry in Des Moines, Iowa. With the new coronavirus leaving many people at least temporarily out of work, food banks and pantries across the U.S. are scrambling to meet an expected surge in demand, even as older volunteers have been told to stay home and calls for social distancing have complicated efforts to package and distribute food.  (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

The new coronavirus has caused a global pandemic that has sickened hundreds of thousands of people and killed more than 47,000 worldwide, crippling economies and forcing restrictions on the movement of millions of people in an effort to stop the virus from spreading further and overwhelming health care systems.

“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 José Andrés, founder of World Central Kitchen.

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For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

Organizers say donations to America's Food Fund are being accepted and will be used on efforts to get meals to those who need them.

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“With millions losing their jobs and programs like school lunches in jeopardy, making sure people aren’t going hungry is of the utmost urgency," said Powell Jobs.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.