Mid-Missouri groups work to close the gap for diaper need
Diapers are expensive, but necessary. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it can cost a family as much as $1,000 per year to diaper a child. For some families, that cost can be out of reach. Madeline McClain tells us how churches, food pantries, and other aid programs are trying to fix that problem in mid-Missouri.
Mid-Missouri diaper aid programs strive to meet funding needs
By Katelyn Brown and Madeline McClain
Mary Archibong is single mother of three. Archibong said she has a hard time affording diapers for her youngest, Daniel. She works part-time, and her family falls 200 percent below the national poverty line.
For parents like Archibong, diapers are a huge expense. On average, diapers cost families about $1,000 per year per child. Local organizations including churches, have implemented programs to help stretch a parent’s budget.
The First United Methodist Church of Jefferson City runs a hygiene pantry called Fresh Start Market. Archibong visited the pantry on Tuesday, April 5. She picked up shampoo, wipes and diapers. Lindsey Rowden runs the pantry. She said it is able to keep shelves stocked because of a United Way grant and community donations.
Other small programs usually don’t have grants like the Fresh Start Market. The Baby Grace program at Court Street United Methodist Church in Fulton operates on donations and a designated portion of the Church’s budget.
Diaper banks receive mass amounts of product and distribute it to smaller aid programs. They can compete for grants from large corporations and organizations to boost their funding. The banks can also coordinate bigger diaper drives.
“We partner with 35 agencies here in Greene County and in an average month we give out 40,000 diapers, and that touches the lives of about six to 700 babies,” Jill Bright, the executive director of the Diaper Bank of the Ozarks, said.
The bank is located in Springfield and is one of three banks in Missouri. As a member of the National Diaper Bank Network, Bright said the banks can get a shipment from Huggies of 300,000 diapers for the $6,000, which is the cost of transportation.
Even with this shipment, the bank’s stock is only sufficient to provide for Greene County, Bright said.
Mid-Missouri programs, such as Fresh Start Market and Baby Grace, don’t have a diaper bank in the area to help them fill the needs of their users.
One solution to increase funding in Missouri is a proposed item in the Missouri budget for 2017. Rep. Jeremy LaFaver, D-Kansas City is sponsoring an item that would give the banks state funding of $375,000.
“So, if we can get that money and give it to a diaper bank, they’re able to buy four times as many diapers as somebody else would. So, it’s much more efficient to go through a diaper bank. They know sort of the agencies that need them and how to get them to them, and so that’s why I wanted to support it,” LaFaver said.
The Missouri House passed one version of the budget with the funding still in tact. The Senate removed it. A conference committee with members from both the House and the Senate will meet toward the end of April to talk about budget differences, including LaFaver’s item.
“I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to make sure that they understand what this is all about and that, you know, we get it approved, the governor leaves it in the budget, and within the next year or so the state of Missouri is actively supporting diaper banks in the state,” LaFaver said.
For now, small mid-Missouri programs remain on their own trying to fill the needs of local families and keep babies clean and healthy.
Missouri agencies and diaper pantries work to reduce diaper need
Organizations across Missouri aim to assist families who struggle to afford diapers to keep their children healthy and happy. The state has three diaper banks located in St. Louis, Kansas City, and Springfield. These are noted in blue on the map. The red locations are smaller organizations working to fill local needs. Some of these locations receive distributions from the diaper banks near them.