Every parent knows first-hand that diapers are an absolute necessity,but that doesn't make them easy for every parent to get.They aren't technically qualified as such when it comes to public assistance programs.As a result,there is no assistance for families in need when it comes to getting the diapers their children need—neither food stamps nor WIC can be used to purchase diapers the way they can to ensure that a child has the food or formula she needs.
This past week at SXSW in Austin,Texas,President Obama announced a new initiative that showcases creativity—and American ingenuity—at its finest,calling on partners in the private sector and in the nonprofit world to come together using technology to address,as the White House puts it,the #diapergap.
"We focus on the middle class and people struggling to get into the middle class.The President asks us to be as creative as possible in looking at people at the bottom struggling to get into the middle class," says Cecilia Munoz,the director of the White House Domestic Policy Council,explaining the work that the team she spearheads in the White House does.
"Diapers are really expensive," the Presidentexplained last week,"And we've actually set up a system whereby through social media and the Internet,non-for-profits are able to make bulk purchases of diapers,save 25 percent on those,so that they can distribute them to low-income moms and families.And it's a convergence of diaper makers and logistics companies and Internet companies."
Munoz explains that theWhite House's new initiativeis structured "to provide support for the nonprofits who are already do good work for the families we're talking about.This way people can get what they need so that their children can be healthy and get the best possible start in life."
The challenges extend to the nonprofit partners too: Organizations that provide diapers to those in need can't order enough diapers to keep costs down—even if they were able to order in bulk,many community nonprofit centers don't have the storage space to keep as many diapers on hand as they'd need in order to continue to provide for families.
"Low income families nationwide pay on average $936 a year for diapers because of all the barriers that prevent low-income families from partaking in online subscription services," explains Luke Tate,Special Assistant to the President for Economic Mobility on the White House Domestic Policy Council.From the ability to receive packages at home to easy access to a computer and Internet,not all parents start at the same place when it comes to getting the best price on this necessity for their children.
He adds that "even with the deals available at big box stores,low income families are shut out.This may involve a bus ride with kids in tow,you can only carry so much,the bus may only run every half hour or hour.And without a car or ready access to transportation,you go to your local corner store where folks are paying up to 50 cents per diaper."
(If you have an Amazon Prime account,you can buy diapers for as little as 11 cents per diaper.)
Molly Sims is just one of the celebrities who has come out publicly in support of the White House's new initiative."Until I had a baby,I had no idea!" Sims says of the cost of diapers."But diapers are expensive!And to know that there are women who don't change their babies so can save diapers or reuse diapers — sometimes I go through ten diapers a day!"