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Orange County families running out of options as Diaper Bank runs out of money

Diapers are a basic need for babies, yet child advocates say nearly half of families in the U.S. with young children can’t afford them. Now, a resource many Orange County families rely on is in jeopardy.

The Orange County Diaper Bank, which started in 2020, provides free diapers to thousands of families, but it may be losing its funding in June, according to the bank’s director.

“We are receiving signals that it’s unlikely in this fiscal environment that the state of California is going to have the amount of money or potentially any money to continue to support existing operations of the diaper banks,” said Mark Lowry, the director of the OC food bank, which also runs the diaper bank.

The group distributes diapers to 80 nonprofits throughout the county. The resource provides free diapers to about 10,000 children a month.

“A pack of diapers, the cheapest one at Walmart or whatever is $5 to $10,” said Katrina Swets, who stopped by Families Forward to pick up food and diapers. “By the time you buy a little pack of diapers, it’s gone in two days.”

Swets, 44, and her children are on a growing list of families who are showing up weekly to get diapers at pantries like Families Forward.

“Organizations like this are so helpful,” said Jessica Henny, a grandmother of two. “It just helps us to have that extra money to pay for the gas, water, electric bill”

The potential loss in state funding for the diaper bank comes at a time Families Forward, a non-profit that serves thousands of families each month, is seeing demand for diapers increase by more than 30%, compared to this time last year.

“In general the post pandemic relief era – we lost a lot of those supportive funds, so those funds are already gone,” said Madelynn Hirneise, CEO of Families Forward. “The need is higher than it was at the peak of the pandemic.”

Lowry is reaching out to state lawmakers urging them not to cut funding and he encourages the public to do the same.

Source: NBC Los Angeles

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