Encore November 2016

Page 14

Good works encore

Dire Diaper Need

Diaper banks aim to provide the barest necessity by

Emily Townsend


n Kalamazoo County, more than one in three families struggle to provide diapers for their children, and the problem is about more than hygiene. Not having clean diapers can lead to myriad bigger problems, from diaper rash and staph infections to a mother’s postpartum depression to a child’s learning delay, according to a 2010 study by the National Diaper Bank Network and the diaper brand Huggies. Infants use about 240 diapers per month, and a year’s supply of disposable diapers costs $936 per child. Meanwhile the two most supportive governmental programs for impoverished families — SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that offers Bridge

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* Editor's Note: “They” is a nonbinary gender identifier, a popular pronoun for transgender individuals, and throughout the article refers to Gardner. Cards for food purchases) and WIC (the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children) — do not provide money for hygiene products like diapers and wipes. As a result, two local organizations are working to make diapers available for low-income families in the greater Kalamazoo area. A new diaper bank at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and a diaper drive through the Elizabeth Upjohn Community Healing Center have so far collected 84,000 diapers to give to local families. The St. Luke’s Diaper Bank was born out of the moment on Mother’s Day 2015 when Jax Lee Gardner read an article about the problems that arise from a parent’s inability to buy enough diapers. “When a parent feels like they can’t adequately care for their child, they are more likely to distance themselves from their child out of feelings of guilt or shame,” explains Gardner. “We know that these early bonding experiences have an effect on a person their whole life.” At the time, Gardner was working in the history and social science departments at Kalamazoo College. As a certified birth doula, an anti-racism activist and the parent of two young