WAUKEGAN - One in three families in the U.S struggle to provide clean diapers for their children. Now with the COVID-19 pandemic fueling unemployment, diaper need is on the rise.
But the founder of a Lake County diaper bank is working tirelessly to meet that need.
For six years now, Ann Marie Mathis and her organization have been handing out diapers to area families in need.
”Safety net programs like food stamps and WICK – you can’t use those for diapers They are food based programs,” she said.
With the coronavirus pandemic upon us and unemployment at a record high, Mathis said families can’t afford the $70 to $80 monthly cost. The nonprofit Twice As Nice Mother and Child has been inundated with requests for diapers.
“I think COVID 19 has disproportionately impacted children and families who lack access to basic needs diapers and other necessities,” Mathis said.
With an average distribution of 70,000 diapers a month the agency is expecting that number to nearly double by the end of April.
“We have received over 150 requests just at our mobile pantry alone in the last two weeks,” Mathis said. “Because of panic buying, hoarding, joblessness – obviously that has an impact on supply.”
That lack of supply didn’t deter Mathis. Instead it only motivated her to hit the pavement in search of new suppliers. And she has now moved to curbside pickup for partnering agencies.
But the biggest adjustment has been to the mobile diaper distribution she offers several times a month in Highwood, Waukegan and Gurnee.
“We’ve had to shift to a drive through program,” she said.
The drive through program allows pre-approved clients to safely pick up diapers.
Although the pandemic has presented new challenges, Mathis, a busy mother of 7, said there is greater need now more than ever and she’s confident that she will be able to fill the diaper gap and make life just a little easier for families.
“It’s just important we help these families in any way we can,” she said.