Why Diaper Donations Matter
A viral top 10 list of food bank needs include baby toiletries and diapers. Here's the scoop on the diaper shortage.
When you hear the phrase “food bank donation,” images of canned foods might immediately spring to mind… but how about diapers?
A list being shared virally on Facebook and online this holiday season includes “baby toiletries”—such as diapers, wipes and baby shampoo—as among the top 10 things that food banks need most.
The list, posted on Dec. 20, 2013 on the website for the radio station KORD 102.7 in Pasco, Washington, was apparently compiled from a thread on the popular content aggregation website Reddit. On the thread, a Reddit user asked people who have worked at food banks what they wish was donated more. The question garnered more than 700 responses, while the resulting list attracted around 97,000 “likes” on Facebook.
Ross Fraser, a spokesman for the hunger-relief charity Feeding America, told BabyZone that the best way to figure out what your local food bank really needs—and what sorts of donations they actually accept—is to contact them directly. (Find a food bank near you through Feeding America’s food bank locator here.)
Fraser said, generally, cash is the most efficient donation.
“We can buy products in bulk so a dollar goes much further for us,” he said.
But Fraser confirmed that diapers, wipes and anything that is considered a “personal care item” whether it’s for babies or not (think toothpaste and shampoo) are indeed in high demand because they’re not covered by government assistance programs.
“For low-income people who are on food stamps or on WIC (The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children), you can get food but you can’t get diapers,” he said. “And you know how expensive diapers are.”
According to The National Diaper Network, diapers cost up to $150 per month per baby, with infants needing up to 12 diapers a day and toddlers needing about eight. Infants born into low-income families can spend a day or more in just one diaper, exposing them to health risks. Parents who need to work can’t rely on cloth diapers because daycare centers require a supply of disposable diapers.
Food banks aren’t the only organizations that provide diapers to those in need. The National Diaper Bank Network maintains a list of a few dozen diaper banks across the country.
But in an op-ed on CNN.com, NDBN executive director Joanne Samuel Goldblum wrote that changes should be made to government assistance programs to “attack the problem” of poor children being “stuck in wet, dirty diapers.”
“Diaper banks tend to be small, often all-volunteer organizations,” Goldblum said. “The scale of the response does not match the enormity of the need.”
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