The San Diego Food Bank and its North County Food Bank chapter started a new Diaper Bank Program which was the brainchild of Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher who came to the Food Bank looking for a solution to a problem many of her low-income constituent’s face.
The Assemblywoman shared the story of a low-income single mother who was able to get off CalFresh (Food Stamps) by getting a job which was the first step in lifting her family out of poverty. She qualified for subsidized day care, the second step to being able to work. But she discovered that she must provide several diapers a day for her child’s day care, or the day care would not accept her child. Sadly, she struggled to afford the diapers, missed days of work, and she fell back into the poverty trap.
The Food Bank started its Diaper Bank Program to help solve an important piece of the poverty puzzle for young parents living in poverty by giving them the hand up they need to work for their families. Diapers are expensive — a month’s supply for one child can cost between $70 and $80, and diapers cannot be purchased with CalFresh benefits or WIC. As a result, parents try to make do without diapers by stretching their supply by leaving babies in dirty diapers longer or by reusing diapers.
A diaper is a small thing, but its impact is significant. Not having diapers means parents cannot leave their children with a childcare provider, most of whom require parents to provide disposable diapers for their children. So parents cannot go to work to earn money. Not having diapers means a longer time between changes, which can lead to severe diaper rash and other health problems. Not having diapers means that babies who cry because their diaper is dirty will cry that much longer, increasing stress for parents struggling to make ends meet. And not having diapers can adversely affect a mother’s feeling of self-worth, negatively impacting the mother-child bond.
The need is significant. A healthy child will require an average of 50 diaper changes a week. That’s approximately 2,600 diaper changes a year. And with more than 48% of the nation’s children under age three living below the poverty level or in low-income families, there are approximately 5.4 million children across America who could need assistance.
The Food Bank’s new Diaper Bank Program is helping by distributing diapers to families in need through its regional hubs throughout San Diego County. The objective of the program is to provide much-needed diapers to low-income parents who reside in San Diego County so they can remain employed, provide for their families, and lift themselves out of poverty.
Thanks to support from Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, the State of California approved $10 million in funding last year for regional food banks across the state to purchase and distribute diapers to families in need. For San Diego County, this will provide $2.5 million in funding over three years which will provide millions of diapers to residents in need who are trying to break the cycle of poverty and put food on the table for their families.
This article originally appeared on Oceanside Chamber of Commerce Journal. To read the full article, please click here.