The pandemic has exacerbated the ‘need for diapers’ in the United States





(CBS NEWS)

Before Covid-19 pandemic, one in three families in the United States struggled to afford enough diapers for their young children. But while the “need for diapers,” as it is called, has long been a condition of living in poverty, it has become even more prevalent during the pandemic, according to the National Diaper Bank Network (NBDN), a coalition of 240 member diaper banks – sites that distribute diapers to community organizations – across the United States

“The issue of the need for diapers has been around for a long time,” Joanne Goldblum, CEO of NDBN, told CBS MoneyWatch. “But during COVID, some of our member diaper banks saw a 500% increase in the number of people requesting products. “

Network-wide, across all 240 facilities, demand for diapers increased by about 70% in 2021, according to Goldblum.

“Of course, that’s no surprise. So many Americans are struggling financially and this is something families have to spend their money on, ”she said.

A sufficient supply of diapers for a child can cost a family between $ 75 and $ 100 per month, according to the NDBN. In 2017, one in three American families could not afford to keep their babies clean and dry, according to the latest NDBN report on diaper needs.

The effects of the pandemic have made it even more difficult for families to get their hands on baby products.

Nationwide Tightening of Child Care Services pushed many women especially out of the workforce, for example, thereby reducing the combined income of families with a parent staying at home to care for children.

Soaring price increases on baby products

Besides, commodity prices have increased as manufacturers grapple with supply chain challenges and labor shortages.

Pampers’ maker, Procter & Gamble, one of the largest producers of diapers in the United States, announced in April that it had started raising prices for baby care products, including diapers, “to make up for some the impact of rising commodity costs “. The price increases, ranging from medium to high single-digit percentages, took effect last month, according to Procter & Gamble.

Kimberly-Clark, another big player in baby care with its Huggies and Pull-Ups brands, in March announced similar price increases on consumer products “to help offset significant inflation in commodity costs. ”, Which came into effect during the summer.

Even a modest increase in the price of commodities can make household items like diapers unaffordable for low-income families.

“The increase has an impact on families who need diapers, and in the United States, we allow product prices to rise but we do not demand a wage increase,” Goldblum said. “Given all of this, we are not surprised to see such an increase in needs. “

Some families account on government assistance to pay for essentials like diapers. In July, parents of 60 million American children began receiving monthly checks through the Extended Federal Child Tax Credit, intended for families who find it difficult to afford basic necessities.

The child tax credit helps

Sabrina Smith, a 36-year-old mother from Port Clinton, Ohio, said she spent part of her $ 600 monthly payment on diapers. “Just with diapers, wipes, the essentials that you need to buy regularly, it’s incredibly useful,” she told CBS MoneyWatch in July.

The Austin Diaper Bank in Texas has seen a dramatic increase in diaper needs locally, linked to sudden job losses and linked to a pandemic.

The demand for free diapers has increased significantly since the start of 2020, peaking during the months of March, April and May. Today, the organization serves 18% more families who struggle to afford diapers each month, compared to early 2020.

“The families we work with say they are catching up to what has happened over the past year and a half. Some are back to work but have incurred credit card debt which they are paying off, ”said Holly McDaniel, executive director of Austin Diaper Bank. “The daycares are at full capacity, the children are at home, so a parent is at home and has not yet returned to work and their income is lower than it was before the pandemic.”

– With additional reports from Aimee Picchi of CBS MoneyWatch


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