According to CNN politics, this current government shutdown is the longest in U.S. history, and it feels like there’s no end in sight at day 27 as of this writing. On Friday, Jan. 11, hundreds of thousands of federal employees didn’t get paid — and many of these people are parents of babies and young children. Diapers are expensive, y’all, and this shutdown is affecting federal employees affording diapers, among other things like food, rent, and gas. But if you’re currently an unpaid federal employee and need diapers ASAP, where do you go to get them?
A report from HuffPost shared the story of a federal prison corrections officer, Jojo, and the hard time she and her family are facing because of the government shutdown. According to the article, Jojo is the sole earner of her family's income, and has had to turn to the Texas Diaper Bank in order to diaper her two young children. Unlike food, formula, and other child services, HuffPost noted that there is no federal program to help parents in need with diapers. (Although, to be honest, who knows how long those federal programs can last if the shutdown doesn't end soon.)
If you or someone you know finds yourself in a similar situation thanks to the government shutdown, turning to food pantries can help. Feeding America is a website that is geared toward helping people find the closest food pantry to them, and Foodpantries.org is another one. The United Way has also just launched a coalition to help those affected by the shutdown. You can check out their 2-1-1 website or call 2-1-1 to look for help in your area. Other places to check out include local churches, and women and children’s shelters, which get donations to help women with small children — including diaper donations.
Other than food pantries, your local church, or women and children's shelters, there is actually an entire organization and website dedicated to finding a diaper bank near you — The Diaper Bank Network. They also work through The United Way’s 2-1-1 initiative. According to the National Diaper Bank website, there are more than 200 member organizations, working with more than 400 partner agencies in 46 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico.
Need cloth diapers? The Cloth Option has you covered. According to the organization’s website, their mission is to provide “an initial supply of cloth diapers to use for as long as you need them.” Maybe these diapers can tide people over until this shutdown finally ends.
Your pediatrician is also a great resource for getting diapers for free. Try calling in and explaining the situation to see if they can give you samples. Some local hospitals will do the same. Also check out diaper companies like Huggies, Pampers, Luvs, GoodNites, Bambo Nature, Seventh Generation, and The Honest Company. They’ll give you free diapers in the hopes you’ll buy more of their diapers in the future by becoming a member on their website. They’ll usually send a lot of coupons, too. You can even call their customer service line and tell them you were thinking about switching brands and you wanted to take their brand for a spin. Most companies will give you some free diapers to try.
However, the real trouble with these organizations giving out diapers is that the amount of families in need has grown. In the previously cited HuffPost article, the Texas Diaper Bank noted they average about 20 families a day in need of diapers, but thanks to the shutdown, that number has risen to about 25 families with "more calls coming in."
CEO and founder of the Diaper Bank Network, Joanne Goldbum, told HuffPost, "Nonprofits don’t have more money because there’s a shutdown. It impacts and pushes on the resources of organizations that are already straining to meet the needs of people who rely on them on a day-to-day basis."
So how can you help? If you're not a family in need of diapers, consider donating to the Diaper Bank Network to help those in need. If there are food pantries around you or local organizations that supply families with diapers, give them a call and see how you can donate, whether it's sending in a few boxes of diapers, donating money, or volunteering your time to help with the new families. Hopefully this government shutdown will be over soon, and hardworking families can get back to what they want to do — provide for their children.