As the St. Louis Area Diaper Bank approaches one year in operation this weekend, the organization is running a week-long drive to collect 100,000 diapers.
According to the National Diaper Bank Network, one out of three families in the United States cannot afford diapers. The cost of diapers can total about $1,000 a year per child and for some low-income families, buying them can take up to 15 percent of the parents' take-home pay.
Locally, the greatest need for diapers exists in the city of St. Louis and north St. Louis County. Because the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps, cannot be used to buy diapers, food pantries faced pressure from families that needed them.
"There's not an easy way for families who don't have a lot of resources to get diapers and the diaper bank can help fill that need and step in," said Kimberly Singer, a board member at the diaper bank.
The nonprofit Nurses for Newborns also collects diapers for families in the St. Louis area.
Research shows that diaper shortages can affect a child's well-being. Not having diapers also is linked to a higher incidence of depression among parents. A survey conducted by the St. Louis Area Diaper Bank's partners showed that about 70 percent of families often had to choose between buying food and diapers.
"The consequences sort of spiral out into their lives and affect them in all sorts of ways that you might not necessarily associate with just that one diaper," said Jess Adams, executive director of the St. Louis Area Diaper Bank.
The bank estimates it distributes 30,000 diapers a month in the St. Louis region.
As of Tuesday, the bank estimated that its a fifth of its way to reaching the 100,000 donations goal. The effort partnered with Schnucks, which is collecting diapers this week at every store in St. Louis. On Saturday, the bank will attempt to fill a semi truck with diapers at one of the supermarket chain's stores in Brentwood.
"As a mom, it was really hard for me to think about how hard that must be to not be able to afford putting diapers on your own child and you know, what do you really do at that point?" Singer said.
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