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Moms in Colorado legislature tackle growing diaper need during pandemic

Posted at 9:43 PM, Feb 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-23 20:32:34-05

AURORA, Colo. — A nonprofit in Aurora that helps families in need with baby essentials, like diapers, more than tripled its distribution in 2020. The organization delivered more than a million diapers as demand reached a new high.

Lindsey Zaback, the program director at WeeCycle, said the need for diapers is shocking.

"Families don’t have enough diapers to keep their children clean, dry and healthy,” Zaback said.

Ella Baldwin cares for her 2-year-old great-granddaughter. Last year, she went into surgery for hip dysplasia, and her current health calls for the use of two diapers at a time.

“We sometimes go through six to eight diapers, at least, a day, sometimes more,” Baldwin said.

It’s an expense she estimates would run her about $300 a month, money she said she needs for vital utility bills. Baldwin is one of the thousands of Coloradans who turned to WeeCycle for assistance with diapers.

“It’s been very hard. People are struggling,” Baldwin said.

Zaback said the organization's goal was to distribute 300,000 diapers in 2020, and they shattered that record by delivering 1.1 million.

“Diaper banks are maxed out,” Zaback said. “The need for diapers is higher than the need for food right now.”

She said some mothers have taken extreme measures as budgets tighten.

“Wrapping their children with toilet paper in a plastic bag just to make ends meet,” Zaback said.

“One out of three people were showing up to food banks and asking for diapers,” state Sen. Brittany Pettersen said.

As a mother to a 1-year-old, Pettersen has closely monitored the demand and need for diapers during the pandemic.

“Many people are applying for SNAP benefits and, unfortunately, the benefit does not include things like diapers, and those are absolutely essential products,” Pettersen said.

It’s why Pettersen, state Sen. Jessie Danielson, Rep. Kerry Tipper and Rep. Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez are sponsoring a bill that would distribute millions of diapers to nonprofits to help families struggling to make end meet.

“All the legislators working on this are mom’s. We have some of the most recent babies in the legislature,” Pettersen said.

They plan to introduce the bill this month.

“What this bill will do is dedicate $2 million this year and an additional $2 million next year for diapers supplies,” Pettersen said.

The bill they plan to propose will allocate $4 million from the state general fund over two years to purchase diapers, wipes and baby lotion.

Zaback estimates about 33 million diapers with a $4 million budget at 12 cents each.

“The funds from this bill are going to benefit so many families in this community because it means we can give out more diapers at out distribution. It means that we won’t run out of diapers,” Zaback said.

She hopes in the near future they can distribute diapers at food banks to help streamline the process for parents struggling.