The ceiling-high shelves inside the Texas Diaper Bank were stocked to near capacity on Wednesday as the organization celebrated the opening of its new facility in Northwest San Antonio.
The 30,000-square-foot warehouse, located at 1803 Grandstand Drive, stores donated feminine hygiene products, adult and baby diapers, wipes, and other incontinence products to help struggling parents and caregivers with the cost of these expensive, yet necessary goods.
“We provide people with products that they need so that they can concentrate on the health and well-being of those they care for, reduce stress, and improve [their quality of life,]” said Texas Diaper Bank CEO Jorge Medina. “These products don’t just serve to meet people’s basic needs; they also improve people’s mental health.”
The Texas Diaper Bank started in 1997 in a small storage room of a church on the West Side of San Antonio, and set out to help meet the needs of the one in three families in the United States who cannot afford an adequate supply of diapers, Medina said.
In 2017, the organization provided more than 4.5 million diapers and incontinence supplies to 32,000 people in Bexar and nine surrounding counties, with more than 80 percent going to children under the age of 4. Of the households needing diapers and hygiene products, 70 percent made $10,000 or less per year.
“There are no government assistance programs that help with the cost of diapers or hygiene products, which are necessary to keep people healthy,” Medina said. “The program grew to include feminine products and diapers for older adults and children with disabilities just out of large need for these [products] for low-income families.”
The organization has also expanded its services to include parenting classes dealing with stress reduction and parent-child bonding, emergency assistance including clothing, food pantries, and referrals to partner organizations including Family Violence Prevention Services, Methodist Healthcare Ministries, and the Children’s Shelter.
Volunteer Simmone Potts said that partner agencies are key to getting the bank’s products to the community. The organization’s daily drop-in hours are typically busy, with people coming to pick up a 25-pack of diapers or feminine hygiene or incontinence products.
“We package the diapers in packs of 25, and people can come back once they run out of their supply,” Potter said.
The Diaper Bank is seeking additional donations to fill out the remaining space in their new warehouse in anticipation of distributing more than 5 million diapers in 2019.
Medina said that a low-income, single-parent household could spend up to six percent of its annual income for diapers for just one child, and that 31 percent of infants and toddlers in the U.S. live in low-income families, according to U.S. Census data.
“People need to realize that this is a serious need and can cause serious health problems for people who don’t have access,” Medina said. “We have grown to be able to support more people with more services, but our growth also shows that hygiene products are an often overlooked need.”