MSN has posted an article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about poor families struggling to provide diapers for their babies. It’s a heartbreaking article packed with crucial information, and ultimately one that begs an overarching question: Do we need a national clean diaper policy?
As mentioned in the article, there are about 100 operational, locally-based “diaper banks” around the nation. Yet the need for clean diapers is far greater than the currently available supply and distribution systems, causing some parents to look to local food banks for assistance. This section from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch article sums up the problem:
Although formula purchases can be federally subsidized, diapers are not covered by food stamps through the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, known as WIC.
As a result, some food pantries are inundated with requests for disposable diapers. But the pantries don’t get steady donations of them and don’t always have them on the shelves. When they do, they fly out of the door, said Marcia Mermelstein, coordinator of the Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry in St. Louis.
“We’re giving people four to six diapers when in reality when most people buy a box of diapers, they’re getting 24 or 48. It’s like giving one tiny bar of soap a month. It’s not enough, it’s a token gesture,” Mermelstein said.
Families will take what they can get, she said.
“They’re taking diapers that are clearly too small and taping them together and using whatever they can.”
Although charitable agencies see the diaper need, they can’t make collecting and distributing diapers their first priority because it takes away energy and donations from their main services.
“Yes, we need diapers,” Mermelstein said. “But in the great scheme of things, we are a food pantry and the highest priority is to give food for survival.”
What policy changes must be made to ensure that no baby in this nation, which spends hundreds of billions of dollars a year on bombs and for-pay soldiers, ever goes without a clean diaper?
Sure, the diaper problem is just one example in a litany of America’s misplaced economic priorities, and requires an ongoing spiritual, philosophical and political paradigm shift to make our society more loving and caring.
In the immediate, what are your ideas for a national diaper policy? Should Congress add a disposable diaper component to the school lunch program? Or to the WIC program? Should public schools all across the nation, or perhaps even public libraries, be required to have cloth diaper-only designated laundry facilities, free of charge, so that parents can wash cloth diapers at the schools and libraries, thus ensuring a steady stream of fresh, clean diapers for all babies at all times?
Spring forth your ideas, for the sake of the babies, as they’re not old enough just yet to agitate for political change.