How organizations are working to diminish diaper need and where to find free products

Local diaper banks and other nonprofits help Georgia families amid a diaper shortage.

Disposable diapers are considered a luxury rather than a necessity by families in need with babies and toddlers.

The price of diapers, like most other household necessities, has steadily increased in 2021 and they have become harder to find during the pandemic. A month’s supply of diapers for an infant costs approximately $80, according to the National Diaper Bank Network.

These changes have increased “diaper need” — the lack of an adequate supply of diapers — to greater levels locally and nationally. Local diaper banks and other nonprofits bring these resources to families.

“We just want (families in need) to know they’re not alone and that we’re trying really hard to build a community of support to give back to them,” said Jamie Lackey, founder and chief executive officer of Helping Mamas, a Norcross-based nonprofit that distributes free baby supplies and feminine hygiene products.

What caused the shortage

The global shipping shortage that has led to sparse grocery store shelves in the U.S. has contributed to the spike in diaper prices.

Factors include a lack of available containers, overcrowded shipping ports and fewer boats to carry goods across international waters, according to global transport company Kuehne+Nagel. News outlets in October reported upwards of 500,000 shipping containers stuck in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. At the Port of Savannah, one of the largest in the country, workers continue to struggle with backed-up imports.

The World Health Organization’s declaration of a pandemic in March 2020 kickstarted the shortage, with worker layoffs halting the global supply chain and making basic household items difficult to find locally.

Diapers are among the products to see a price spike due to low availability.

Kimberly-Clark, which manufactures Huggies disposable diapers, and Proctor and Gamble, manufacturer of Pampers, announced price increases in the mid-to-high single digits in the spring.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index, the price of apparel for infants and toddlers, including diapers, rose 1.1% from September to October, while a majority of men’s and women’s apparel items decreased.

A pack of 32-count, size 1 disposable diapers by Huggies cost $9.99 at Kroger and $8.27 at Walmart, as of early December, but the cost of each individual diaper increases with the size. A box of 198-count disposable diapers in the same size costs $50-60, averaging around 30 cents a diaper.

How the diaper shortage impacts infants and adults

Diaper need also affects the guardians who care for the infants.

Studies show that working parents and legal guardians who lack access to diapers miss work more often than those who do. According to the National Diaper Bank Network, 57% of working parents in the country miss an average of four days of work or school in a given month due to a lack of access to diapers. With 64% of Georgia’s working mothers raising infants, this issue can lead to a significant lack of productivity if left unaddressed.

Just over 20% of Atlanta residents were reported to live underneath the poverty line, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s five-year estimate.

Some families must also face the decision of giving up other necessities to save money for diapers. According to a survey conducted by Huggies in 2017, these sacrifices can include personal savings, utility expenses, clothes, grocery purchases and personal hygiene items. Over a quarter of surveyed families even reported skipping meals and taking on more jobs to keep up with the expensive costs of baby supplies.

Families who struggle to afford diapers tend to rely on support from family and friends, and sometimes resort to prolonging diaper use or refrain from using diapers in order to preserve supply. Others rely on donations from local nonprofits.

Credit: Jamie Lackey

Credit: Jamie Lackey

Where to find diapers:

Some organizations and companies hold events and mobile services that distribute baby supplies free of charge.

Here is a look at three of those efforts and distribution days planned for December. If you know of others not listed offering diapers, please contact us at coveringpovertysite@gmail.com.

Helping Mamas

helpingmamas.org

info@helpingmamas.org

4487 Park Drive, Suite A1, Norcross

(770) 985-8010

Helping Mamas, founded in 2014, partners with over 70 clinics, ministries, churches, schools and other nonprofits to deliver baby supplies from its 9,000-square-foot warehouse in Norcross.

Lackey, Helping Mamas’ founder and chief executive officer, said she originally planned to act as a third-party supplier that operated solely through its partners, but the pandemic caused her staff and volunteers to distribute products directly, as well.

Helping Mamas also started a mobile service in 2020. Volunteers drive through the Atlanta area in the organization’s van to hold drop-off events at churches, schools and libraries. Upcoming dates are listed at helpingmamas.org/mobile-distribution.

10 a.m.- 3 p.m., Dec. 7

Peachtree Corners Library

5570 Spalding Drive, Peachtree Corners

Atlanta Community Food Bank

acfb.org

3400 N. Desert Drive, Atlanta

(404) 892-3333

Diapers, toiletries and paper products are among the non-perishable supplies most requested by the Atlanta Community Food Bank.

The food bank issues its almost 9 million pounds of donated food to over 700 smaller organizations around Atlanta, which is then distributed to the public. ACFB also hosts mobile drives and partners with local food pantries, community kitchens and other affiliates, like school cafeterias.

The food bank is open from 8 a.m.- 5 p.m Monday through Friday.

Amerigroup Georgia’s Diaper Days

amerigroup.com/community-support

Amerigroup Georgia, which offers Medicaid insurance to lower-income families, brings free baby resources to the community. It hosts diaper drives, where those in need can pick up diapers and a goodie bag of toys and health brochures including information for new mothers.

“We not only believe that we are a health insurance company when it’s not only about making sure that your medical needs are covered,” said Maria Henriquez, director of Medicaid plan marketing. “We want to make sure that your care is patient-centered.”

Diaper Day events include:

2-3 p.m. Dec. 9

Medical Associates Plus

1299 Interstate Parkway, Augusta

1-3 p.m. Dec. 11

Royston Housing Authority

364 Jones Circle, Royston

10-11 a.m. Dec. 16

Mitchell County House of Hope

76 E. Oakland Ave., Camilla

1-2:30 p.m. Dec. 17

Imagine Pediatrics

18 Riverbend Drive SW, Suite 210, Rome


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