As efforts accelerate worldwide to provide relief from the ravages of COVID-19, Purchase, N.Y.-based PepsiCo Inc. and The PepsiCo Foundation announced a more than $45 million initiative focused on helping people and communities most affected by this virus.

The company is funding vital support, including protective gear for healthcare workers, testing and screening services, and already is in the process of distributing more than 50 million nutritious meals to at-risk populations by supporting food banks and other partners around the world. PepsiCo is leveraging its own distribution expertise and investing heavily in partnerships to increase access to nutrition in response to worldwide COVID-19-related school closures that have left 1.71 billion students out of school and many deprived of a key source of nutrition.

“This unprecedented crisis requires all hands on deck, and companies have a big role to play in directing critical resources to the most vulnerable,” said Ramon Laguarta, chairman and chief executive officer of PepsiCo, in a statement. “Food is at the heart of what PepsiCo does, and we believe the best way we can support communities during this difficult time is by leveraging our expertise and capabilities, along with help from our partners, to bring food to our neighbors who need it most. We’re activating our global resources to do this now and provide other essential relief, and we will continue to do so as the world unites to tackle COVID-19.”

The company is allocating its $45 million COVID-19 response to support the most hard-hit communities, including the following investments, which the company will expand on in coming weeks:

  • $15.8 million in North America, which has the most recorded cases of COVID-19 in the world. PepsiCo’s efforts focus primarily on increasing access to nutrition for out-of-school children in the United States — 22 million of whom receive low-cost or free meals via the country’s National School Lunch program every day. The company also is funding protective gear for healthcare workers in the United States, investing in testing and screening services, and providing financial support for U.S. restaurant workers who are experiencing joblessness.
  • $7.7 million in Europe where entire countries are on lock-down and hospitals are overflowing. The company is concentrating its response on particularly hard-hit countries including France, Italy, and Spain to bolster the capacity of local health and relief systems. Specifically, PepsiCo is funding the distribution of essential goods including meals, personal protective equipment, and health transportation. Funding will be used to support the most vulnerable groups in society, particularly seniors and children, many of whom are in confinement and isolation.
  • $6.5 million in Latin America to help prepare for the expected increase in COVID-19 impact by strengthening local food bank capabilities. Specifically, PepsiCo’s food bank support will enable the stock of key food staples, provision of meals and staff transportation, and training of food bank staff on methods to reduce COVID-19 transmission. PepsiCo’s nonprofit partnerships will also provide millions of meals for out-of-school children and their families.
  • $7.2 million in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia which requires a unique response due to its booming populations and diverse, emerging economies. PepsiCo is investing to scale meal distribution among the most food insecure populations in partnership with leading NGOs and to support government-led responses to local needs.
  • $3.3 million in Asia Pacific, Australia, New Zealand and China, which has been living with the devastating effects of COVID-19 longer than any other part of the world. The company provided early funding for protective gear for healthcare workers in China and South Korea. PepsiCo will also help alleviate hunger among the most vulnerable people in the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Australia including through meal distribution programs particularly to reach those in rural communities.

The company also is investing in global partnerships that provide scale solutions. PepsiCo will announce additional programs during the coming days and weeks to meet hyper-local needs as COVID-19 continues to spread and community needs expand. Additionally, recognizing that PepsiCo employees around the world also want to help their communities in this time of crisis, The PepsiCo Foundation is offering a two-to-one match for all employee charitable contributions to a group of nonprofits providing COVID-19 relief globally for the next four weeks, contributing as much as $2 million in support to nonprofits chosen by employees.

In addition to its direct response, PepsiCo is working closely with its peers, suppliers, customers and other leading foundations to identify joint impact investing programs that can expand and sustain access to critical nutrition resources for families affected by COVID-19.