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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said Thursday he will donate $100 million to keep struggling Americans from going hungry during the coronavirus pandemic.
The billionaire made the unprecedented donation to Feeding America, a nonprofit organization that oversees a network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries around the country. In a social media post explaining his decision, Bezos noted that the forced closure of most U.S. restaurants, which often donate excess food, has left food banks strapped for goods even as a growing number of Americans under financial pressure turn to them for help.
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“Today, I want to support those on the front lines at our nation’s food banks and those who are relying on them for food with a $100 million gift to @FeedingAmerica,” Bezos wrote on Instagram. “Feeding America will quickly distribute the funds to their national network of food banks and food pantries, getting food to those countless families who need it.”
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Authorities in cities around the country have mandated the closure of nonessential businesses, including restaurants, as part of efforts to enact social distancing and slow the spread of coronavirus. The closures have resulted in a surge of layoffs, with 6.6 million Americans filing for unemployment benefits in the last week alone.
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Feeding America lauded Bezos’ donation as the most generous by value in its history.
"We are deeply grateful for Jeff Bezos' generous $100 million contribution to Feeding America's COVID-19 Response Fund,” Feeding America CEO Claire Babineaux-Fontenot said in a statement. “This donation, the largest single gift in our history, will enable us to provide more food to millions of our neighbors facing hardship during this crisis. Countless lives will be changed because of his generosity."
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Under Bezos’ leadership, Amazon said last month it would hire 100,000 additional workers to bolster its service amid a surge in demand. The company has boosted wages for U.S. workers as part of its coronavirus response efforts.
At the same time, workers at Amazon warehouses and the e-commerce giant’s grocery chain Whole Foods have raised questions about their working conditions.
Bezos is the richest person in the world, with a personal net worth of more than $117 billion, according to Forbes.