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Diaper banks spreading

"Diaper need." It's a catchy phrase for not being able to afford enough baby diapers. For many families, it's also a small, but significant factor in the downward spiral of poverty.

A donation of 20,000 diapers from Huggies to the DC Diaper Bank.

Kai Ryssdal: One of the things Congressman Paul Ryan's budget proposes to cut government spending is change the way the social safety net works. Medicaid, food stamps, those kinds of things.

Dirty diapers aren't often mentioned in the same breath as social safety net. Think about what happens, though, if you need 'em -- but you can't afford 'em.

From Washington, Elizabeth Wynne Johnson has the story, one poopy diaper at a time.


Elizabeth Wynne Johnson: Six-week-old Daniel puts away a lot of milk. It's fuel he'll need.

Daniela Maria Leggett: 'Cause I'm going to be tall, and have big hands and feet just like my grandpa and play basketball.

Until then, what goes in must come out. Which means Daniel's mom, Daniela Maria Leggett, changes diapers.

Leggett: A whole lot. I think he has like four dirty diapers a day. We run out of diapers so much.

We're at the Northwest Center, which offers counseling and assistance to low-income families in Washington, D.C. Daniela says she doesn't know how she'd manage without the free diapers she gets here each month.

Neither does Natalia Diaz-Minaya. Even buying in bulk, diapers are expensive.

Natalia Diaz-Minaya: Maybe a box would cost me about $45. And I use about two, two-and-a-half boxes per month.

Programs like food stamps and WIC don't cover diapers. Corinne Cannon and her husband stumbled onto this problem a couple years ago.

Corinne Cannon: We started calling organizations and saying, 'What do you need? Can we give you time? Can we give you money? What do you need?' And we heard over and over again, to our complete surprise, 'We need diapers.'

She started DC Diaper Bank, one of only about 40 in the country. But they're about to a very big boost from a national network for diaper banks and a long-established children's charity, plus a donation of $20 million Huggies diapers.

Through this new partnership, diaper bankers will be able to tap into the outreach of many more organizations. For its part, Huggies will get brand recognition and goodwill.

Corinne Cannon: 20 million diapers will eventually be used because we know babies go through diapers fast. But what we will have is the awareness that was raised around this issue. Folks will know that food stamps don't pay for diapers. And they'll think about it longer-term.

In Washington, I'm Elizabeth Wynne Johnson for Marketplace.

A donation of 20,000 diapers from Huggies to the DC Diaper Bank.

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I agree with so many of the comments: cloth diapers are the answer! As a teenage babysitter, that's what I used because that's all there was then and I was more than able to manage. Used them for both my kids. So much cheaper, better for the environment and you've got all those cloths you can use for other things when you need them - like over your shoulder when you're burping a baby. Why didn't someone think to ask about them. Isn't this supposed to be an intelligent show?

You're going to have a hard time finding one more firm in his defense of the social safety net than me, particularly here in Maine where our extremist Governor Teapot is waging war on anything that doesn't line the pockets of the wealthy, but I am glad that food stamps and WIC don't cover disposable diapers.

As stated by others, they are an indefensible burden on our landfills and using them is totally unnecessary by anyone, rich or poor. Unless people are truly ignorant of the existence of cloth diapers, Huggies are a folly of laziness, pure and simple.
If Huggies wants to do something to help needy people, they will offer cloth diapers and covers. Anything less is irresponsible.

This is one area that anyone in need can do something to help themselves. There's no excuse to waste precious resources on this when extremists are taking food from needy children and cutting health care to the sick.

Your interviewees get no sympathy from me.

I'm a big fan of the show - BUT where was the question from Ms Johnson about why the interviewee can't use reusable diapers? It wasn't long ago that we all used a cloth 'nappy' and a disposable liner. Each 'poop' only then needs a quick scoop of the poop into a trash can or even an organic recycle bin, a quick launder, and reapplication to the baby :-0. Where did we go wrong?

Am dismayed (but not shocked) that the liberal producers, editor and reporter never considered approaching this angle of the subject: if someone can't afford diapers then they can't afford a child so shouldn't have one! There is then food, clothes, medical, education, etc. I don't want to pay for those through my taxes any more than I want to pay for their diapers. Please folks, let's have personal responsibility on the agenda in our homes, in our government and in radio programs.

Landfills and over harvesting of our forests! Amazing waste on so many levels.

Try cloth diapers and a diaper pail. Launder them every other day and deal with it.
Or start a business supplying clean cloth diapers for new mothers. Delivery service and soft clean cloth diapers for the little bambino.

Get the funding from these agencies which cry for free paper products to throw away.

Boycott paper diapers!

Cloth diapers, people. Come on. You can get pre-fold diapers for 3 bucks a pop and covers for 13 bucks a piece. True, you have to wash them, but it's really not a big deal(unless you need to use the laundromat). We have a six week old baby, as well. He has a hell of a lot more dirty diapers than 4 a day. We use cloth diapers...it's a great economical choice, and you don't have to fill up the garbage can with dirty diapers constantly.

Couldn't have said it better myself ;-), maybe.

"Maybe a box would cost me about $45. And I use about two, two-and-a-half boxes per month." What?! I have 4 kids and used disposable diapers with each of them. If one purchases generic, one large box ($30) will last about one month. Even if she buys name-brand, she may spend $45/month. It sounds like she's never actually bought diapers.

how DISGUSTING!! Not one person NEEDS diapers. According to Wikipedia, "An estimated 27.4 billion disposable diapers are used each year in the US, resulting in a possible 3.4 million tons of used diapers adding to landfills each year." They prefer them because our disposable culture deems it low-brow to wash and re-use anything. What a spoiled country we revel in. Like growing and processing food to make disposable coffee cups rather then to feed people.

Whoa, how about reusable diapers?!
My parents were poor immigrants, with a lot of kids and no desire to receive charity. My mother used reusable diapers most of the time, because disposables were too expensive. I've heard stories of older female relatives even cutting up their wedding dress to use as diapers (I don't know how true that is, actually; it might be one of those "back in my day..." stories). But it might not be too far from the truth; my mom said she cut up older clothes to use as diapers. Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do. And reusables are probably a little better for the environment, also.

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