In recognition of National Diaper Need Awareness Week, First Chance for Children will host a series of events beginning Saturday.
On Saturday at 7:00 am First Chance for Children will host their first 5K Diaper Dash. Then on Monday the group will hold a ribbon cutting and open house to officially start the week and celebrate a new playground at the organization’s main office.
“We want families to know that we have this resource for them, but we want our community to know it’s a necessity,” said Gay Litteken, executive director of First Chance for Children.
Nationwide, one in three families cannot afford diapers. Families spend about $80 a month on diapers, according to a document from the National Diaper Bank Network. Diapers are not included in many federally funded programs, including Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
In the state of Missouri, too, diapers are taxed as a luxury good.
“We have a lot of parents who have to choose between gas for their car or diapers for the week,” Litteken said. “This is a difficult decision for any parent. We don’t want them to have to make those decisions.”
First Chance for Children’s Baby Bag Program provides diapers and wipes to 11 Mid-Missouri counties. The most recent additions are in Monroe and Marion counties.
“I’m from Hannibal,” said Verena Wilkerson, coordinator of the Baby Bags diaper bank. “It’s in Marion County. So for me to be able to serve my hometown… it’s pretty awesome.”
Wilkerson said she loves serving the community and working with partners and volunteers.
“It’s personal. I am a single mother of two children. Parenting is difficult in itself,” Wilkerson said. “It’s even harder when you don’t have those basic needs to provide for your children.”
Not having access to diapers can lead to health problems for children, as parents may prolong diaper use longer than is hygienic and safe, Litteken said.
Diaper needs affect parents. According to a document from the National Diaper Bank Network, “57% of diaper-dependent parents who depend on childcare said they missed an average of four days of school or work in the past month because they didn’t have diapers.”
Last year, just over 7,000 diaper packages were distributed across Missouri. This year, that number is expected to double, Litteken said. 25 diapers are in a package.
During the pandemic, diaper costs increased by 14%. Litteken cites the pandemic and the economy as reasons for the price increase.
“This is huge. That helps us, you know, let the community know that we need your help,” Wilkerson said. “We can’t do this without you.”