Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Diaper Bank anyway?
Diaper Banks are non-profit organizations dedicated to the understanding and alleviation of diaper need. Over 300 diaper banks and distribution programs exist in 47 states, DC, and Guam.
Diaper Banks are like food banks, but with diapers — serving as central points for the collection and distribution of diapers in a community, as well as expert resources for information about the causes and consequences of diaper need.
What is diaper need?
Plainly put, diaper need is the experience of not having enough diapers. Roughly 1 in 3 families across the country experience this need — routinely facing the gut-wrenching reality that they cannot meet one of their child’s most basic needs.
The cause of diaper need is simple — diapers are expensive and lots of families struggle to earn enough money to pay for the many things they need. The consequences, however, are much more complicated.
When diapers are in short supply, everyone in a household feels the effects. Little ones left in soiled diapers for extended periods of time may experience the most direct consequences of diaper need in the form of diaper rash and physical discomfort but the physical, cognitive, and emotional consequences of diaper need go far beyond a simple rash. From the moment of birth, little brains are building the foundation for healthy and loving relationships, for self-esteem and for trust and that foundation is built in the context of loving exchanges where basic needs like feeding and diapering are met. When a child cries to have her needs met and nothing happens she begins to learn not to trust that her needs will be met, she begins to get the impression that she is not important to the people around her, and ultimately she begins to withdraw from normal and healthy engagement with her environment. Caregivers who cannot provide enough diapers report feeling stressed, sad and like bad parents — in fact, many women who experience diaper need rate the experience as more stressful than food insecurity.
What is period poverty?
Period poverty refers to a lack of access to menstrual products, sanitation facilities, and adequate education. This widespread issue affects an estimated 500 million people worldwide. Those experiencing period poverty may have mental health challenges and physical health risks.
In the United States, period poverty takes on a variety of different forms. There is the so-called tampon tax, which sees feminine hygiene products subjected to sales tax even when other medical and personal care products are exempt. These taxations are still in place in 33 states.
In addition, assistance programs such as Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formally known as food stamps) do not apply to non-food necessities such as toilet paper and feminine hygiene products. This means that women living in poverty are often forced to choose between buying feminine hygiene products and other necessities.
Why can’t families afford diapers?
It costs about $100 each month to diaper a child, just over $1,000 each year. For families living at the poverty line, with annual incomes less than $20,000 for a family of three, the cost of diapers represents about 7% of that family’s take home pay. For a mom or dad working full time at a minimum wage job however, the cost of diapers represents more like 10% of take home pay. It’s important to note that the reality of work and income for many families struggling to get by is that it is difficult to find true, full time work. Many families receiving diapers from the Diaper Bank report that they are raising more than one child on less than $500/month. For these families, the cost of diapers represents anywhere from 15-20% of their take-home pay.
The percentage of take-home pay spent on diapers may not seem significant at first glance, but when diapers are considered as one item on a long list of things every family must pay for, the struggle to provide this essential resource becomes clear. Every family must primarily consider how to secure housing and in Missouri, a worker would need to earn more than $15/hour in order to spend less than 30% of his or her take-home pay on rent. The average cost of rent for a 1 bedroom apartment in St. Louis City is $690, 75% of the monthly income of someone who works 40 hours a week at a minimum wage job.
It is impossible to make an income of $1,000/month stretch to cover $690 rent and $100 for diapers along with food, clothing, utility payments, transportation costs and childcare, which costs anywhere between $0 -$500/month for families receiving MO’s child care subsidy.
While public assistance programs like SNAP (food stamps) and WIC exist to help low-income families get the food they need, public housing or Section 8 program vouchers exist to help families find affordable housing, CHIP provides healthcare services for low-income children and TANF can provide a small cash benefit to extremely low-income families, there are NO social safety net programs that exist to help families to purchase diapers.
Why don’t families just use cloth diapers?
While cloth diapers may seem like a more environmentally or financially responsible choice, for families living at or below the poverty line cloth diapers just aren’t a feasible option. Many families that the Diaper Bank serves do not have access to laundry facilities at their home AND also do not have access to a personal vehicle. This means that in order to use cloth diapers caregivers would have to load up dirty diapers everyday or every other day and take public transportation to the laundromat where they would spend 2-3 hours on the multiple wash cycles plus the drying cycle required to adequately clean cloth diapers.
For families that do have access to laundry facilities at home and who are interested in cloth diapering, the Diaper Bank recommends checking out the Share the Love program, a cloth diaper bank started right here in St. Louis by local cloth diaper company, Cotton Babies.
How does the Diaper Bank get its diapers and period supplies?
Many of the diapers distributed by the Diaper Bank come from donations by people like you! Our Ambassadors collect diapers in their neighborhoods and lots of St. Louis families, churches and businesses host diaper drives throughout the year.
The St. Louis Area Diaper Bank is fortunate to benefit from a diaper donation program made possible through the collaboration of Huggies and the National Diaper Bank Network (NDBN). Huggies donates 20 million diapers each year to NDBN and the Network then distributes those diapers out to regional Diaper Banks like the St. Louis Area Diaper Bank. Through this donation program and other wholesale diaper purchasing agreements managed by the NDBN, the St. Louis Area Diaper bank can acquire hundreds of thousands of diapers for far less than they would cost at a retail store.
How does the Diaper Bank get its funding?
The vast majority of the Diaper Bank’s resources come directly to us through individual donors just like you! Click here to invest in this important work today.
The Diaper Bank has been supported since 2015 with funding from the Wayne C. Kaufmann Charitable Foundation at Youthbridge Community Foundation, and this has been the organization’s sole grant funding partner in those years.
Our largest funder is Community Impact Network. The Network has provided the Diaper Bank with both financial support and our office and warehouse space since 2019.
The Diaper Bank also receives generous support from corporate sponsors of our events and corporate matching of individual donor gifts (find out here if your employer will match your donation). Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about how your business can help end diaper need in St. Louis.
How does the Diaper Bank get diapers and period supplies to the families and individuals who need them?
The St. Louis Area Diaper Bank distributes diapers exclusively through partnerships with local non-profit, educational, and health focused organizations and never directly to individuals or families. In 2018, the Diaper Bank will be working with 32 local organizations to make sure that the clients they serve have access to an adequate and reliable source of diapers.
What is an adequate supply of diapers for a child?
The St. Louis Area Diaper Bank ensures that every child receiving diapers through a partner providing case management or home visitation services will receive 50 diapers each month for as long as they are enrolled in the partner program.
Fifty diapers isn’t enough diapers to keep a kiddo clean and dry all month long, so why is that how many diapers we provide? Research conducted by The National Diaper Bank Network demonstrates that for many families experiencing diaper need, they find themselves falling short of the diapers they need by about 10-12 diapers each week. By providing 50 diapers to each child each month we feel confident that we are effectively eliminating the diaper need experienced by many families and significantly impacting the diaper need of families who have higher needs.
How does period poverty affect women and girls?
Period poverty affects every aspect of a person’s life. Including the physical and mental well-being and their ability to attend work or school because they lack the products necessary to manage their monthly period.