Rising Diaper Prices Boost Demand at Attleboro-Area Agencies Serving Low-Income Families | Coronavirus

This therefore means that everyone benefits from a pay cut of at least 5.4%.

But there is worse news.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, gasoline increased by 42 percent, heating fuel by 43 percent, electricity by 5 percent, natural gas by 21 percent, and clothing by 3 percent.

These are costs we all incur.

And then there’s the cost of the diapers.

It’s a cost that plagues young low-income families on top of all the other cost increases, according to national and local sources.

“The average unit price of diapers rose 14% year-over-year in January and has remained high since, according to data from (retail tracker) Nielsen,” the article said.

“Packages that cost around $ 25 last year can now cost $ 40 – and there’s less inside. Indeed, baby care items, from skin ointments to wipes, have seen double-digit increases, and companies have said prices will rise again. “

Added to all the other cost increases, this can hurt a young low-income family.

And it is not that rare.

According to the National Diaper Bank Network, one in three families struggled to provide enough diapers for their babies or toddlers across America – and that was before the coronavirus hit.

Afterwards, it got worse.

“Research conducted by the National Diaper Bank Network in 2020 found that member diaper banks (over 225 in the US) distributed an average of 86% more diapers in 2020 compared to 2019 due to the increased diaper requirements resulting from COVID-19. pandemic, ”said Troy Moore, NDBN chief external officer, in an email to the Sun Chronicle.

“Some programs have reported increases of 200, 400 and up to 800% from 2019. Anecdotally, in 2021, many diaper banks continue to see increased diaper needs and continue to expand their capacity. to serve their local communities. “

Moore said NDBN’s goal is to end the need for diapers.

It’s a need that not everyone sees, as it only affects those whose babies crawl or scamper on their living room floors.

And with babies needing 8 to 12 diapers per day – or 280 to 360 diapers per month – and toddlers needing 4 to 6 diapers per day – or 120 to 180 diapers per month – this can have a huge impact on a small budget, especially with all other living costs factored in, Moore said.

“The National Diaper Bank believes that any increase in the retail price of basic necessities, which children and families need to thrive, has an unfair impact on families living in poverty,” he said. told The Sun Chronicle.

Cost assessment

A visit to a nearby Wal-Mart confirmed that crates of diapers do indeed cost up to $ 40.

Pampers Size 1 to Size 5 “Baby Dry” diapers all cost $ 39.94 per case at a Wal-Mart that a reporter visited.

The smallest size, calculated based on the baby’s weight, comes in a case of 216 diapers.

This means that it will cost $ 639 per year for the minimum amount used, which would be 3,360 diapers.

However, the baby will grow during this year, which means that the size of the diaper will also increase.

Each increase in size has fewer diapers per crate, which could mean fewer crates need to be purchased as the baby ages to infancy when the minimum requirement is 120 diapers per month.

In short, the exact cost is difficult to estimate.

But suffice to say that the cost has increased and for a family of two, mother and baby living on the poverty line in the United States, it would cost $ 639 per year (16 cases of 216 diapers at 39 , $ 94 per case or 280 diapers per month) to $ 798 (20 cases of 216 diapers at $ 39.94 per case or 360 diapers per month).

At maximum, assuming a single baby, this represents 4.6 percent of the federal poverty line income of $ 17,420.

For a family of three, assuming a single baby, this is 3.63% of the poverty line income of $ 21,960, and for a family of four, again assuming a baby, it’s 3 percent of income of $ 26,500.

If there are two babies, the percentages are doubled.

In Massachusetts, according to the NDBN, there are 212,910 children under the age of three and 17% or 36,195 live in families earning less than 100% of the federal poverty line, which means layers are eating away even more. their income.

Local impact

So how is it going locally?

There is always a shortage of diapers in the charities that distribute them.

Executive Director Darlene Howard said her organization serves about 70 area babies aged 24 months or younger each month with free diapers, wipes, formula, baby food and blankets.

“We also provide referrals to over 60 community agencies for those in need,” she said in an email to the Sun Chronicle. “The only requirements to participate in our monthly diaper distribution are a photo ID of a parent or guardian, a WIC card, proof of the child’s birth and that the child is 24 months or younger. . “

While the need is still great, demands have not increased at her agency, she said.

Howard speculated that the money provided by the federal government to everyone during the pandemic could have eased the financial burden on young low-income parents.

Abundant Hope does not have the resources to provide a full month of diapers for one person.

And the number of layers provided only depends on the number of layers given, Howard said.

“We help in any way we can based on our donations,” she said. “We plan strategically to ensure that our resources are stored on the days of diaper distribution. We depend on the community to provide material resources and financial assistance to enable us to continue to meet the demand each month.

Local resources include donations from pantries and churches.

“We are working with many local churches to purchase diapers and wipes during in-person church diaper drives,” Howard said. “When we need it, the parishioners always provide. We also accept donations of food and infant formula from five local pantries. “

But on a larger scale, the pandemic has exacerbated the diaper shortage, said Brigid Boyd, senior vice president of communications and public affairs for United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley.

“The pandemic has exacerbated the diaper crisis for low-income families, and we’ve heard it from all sides of our community partners,” she said in an email to The Sun Chronicle. “We also heard that with more people working and learning from home, fewer ‘community drives’ were taking place for food and other basic items, leaving many organizations without the usual supplies to distribute.”

As a result, the United Way hosted a region-wide “community baby shower” for 1,000 new and pregnant families in Boston, Lynn, Lawrence and Attleboro this past May.

“In Attleboro, we shared over 100 boxes of diapers, each box contained a month’s supply of 150 diapers, plus wipes and a $ 75 gift card to help families meet this essential need.” , she said.

Meanwhile, local pantries have little involvement in distributing diapers to those in need.

Carissa Phillips, executive director of Hebron Food Pantry, said that although they distribute personal health care products, if they are donated, their main focus is food.

And to date, there has been no increase in requests for diapers which, if Hebron has done so, are being distributed.

“They will ask periodically, but I haven’t seen an increase in the number of people asking for diapers,” Phillips said.

And at Murray Church Food Pantry, volunteer Sheila Jacobs said demand for diapers, which her pantry receives from the Greater Boston Food Bank, still exceeds supply.

She said the pantry complements, where possible, the supply of diapers to those in need.

“Quite often the demand is greater than the supply,” Jacobs said.

Georges W. Rhesusode can be reached at 508-236-0432.

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