Sheryl Sandberg and Fiancé Tom Bernthal Launch Emergency Fund to Feed Families amid Coronavirus

Sheryl Sandberg and Fiancé Tom Bernthal Launch Emergency Fund to Feed Families amid Coronavirus

By Anne Rowe for DPS board, April 10, 2020

Sheryl Sandberg and her new fiancé Tom Bernthal are doing their part to help those affected by school closures amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Facebook COO, 50, announced on Friday that she and Bernthal, 46, were helping launch the COVID-19 Emergency Fund for Feeding Families in partnership with their local food bank, Second Harvest of Silicon Valley, to ensure families were being fed during the crisis.

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“The COVID-19 outbreak is hitting families hard and schools are already closing around the country,” she wrote in a Facebook post. “For the 22 million kids who rely on free and reduced-price meals nationwide, a school closure is more than an inconvenience: it’s an emergency.”

“The issue of food security has never been more important in every neighborhood,” she continued. “In the Bay area alone, about 400,000 kids are fed by local schools, and they need our help.”

Sandberg explained that Second Harvest was already getting grab-and-go meals at the closed schools and doing grocery runs for families in need, but their volunteer numbers had dropped drastically in recent days.

“They normally have 80-100 volunteers on any given day,” she wrote. “But yesterday, only 17 were able to make it.”

Sheryl Sandberg and Tom Bernthal

Larissa Cleveland

RELATED: Va. Teachers Launch GoFundMe to Ensure Students Still Get Fed as Schools Close for Coronavirus

In order to keep those food services operating, Sandberg said Second Harvest was hiring a temporary workforce and needed help in funding the program and paying those workers.

“Hunger touches every community in the U.S., and it can be particularly hard on families during emergency situations,” Sandberg wrote. “The toughest part is that we don’t know when this crisis will end. But we do know there are families that need our help, right now. Every dollar counts.”

“We hope you’ll join us in supporting Second Harvest Food Bank — or starting your own fundraiser for your local food bank,” she added. “Now, more than ever, we need to come together as a community to support those who need it most.”

In addition to kicking off the fund, Sandberg and Bernthal said they’re teaming up with Nike CEO John Donahoe and his wife Eileen, Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer, Additional Ventures co-founder Erin Hoffmann, Benchmark general partner Bill Gurley and his wife Amy, Intuit co-founder Scott Cook and his wife Signe Ostby, and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman to make a joint donation of $5.5 million.

Sandberg also said she and Bernthal were matching any donations that were made to her post’s fundraiser, which has raised over $30,000 so far.

RELATED: How Event Cancellations and Social Distancing Can Reduce Expected Coronavirus Deaths in the U.S.

In California, there are at least 252 confirmed cases of coronavirus with four reported deaths as of Friday afternoon, according to The New York Times. Washington, New York, and Massachusetts also have hundreds of confirmed cases, with Washington currently leading the country in reported deaths with 31.

Several states, including Ohio, Maryland, and Michigan, have closed schools in an effort to curb the spread. A number of school districts in cities, such as Seattle, San Francisco, San Diego, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Denver, have also closed, according to USA Today.

Like Sandberg and Bernthal, people around the country have been stepping up to ensure that no family goes hungry amid the crisis.

A trio of teachers in Virginia launched a GoFundMe page to raise money for kids in their school district who currently receive breakfast and lunch from the district’s program.

House Democrats also proposed legislation in which states would be allowed to provide food stamps to make up for lost school lunch benefits for kids kept home from school, according to the Associated Press.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.