Nation’s first publicly funded diaper bank expands to nutrition safety net program, doubling the number of free diapers available to City babies
SAN FRANCISCO – San Francisco is now the first county in the nation to provide free diapers as a supplementary benefit for families who receive CalFresh food assistance, known at the federal level as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The announcement comes from the San Francisco Diaper Bank, a partnership between the Human Services Agency (HSA) and Help a Mother Out (HAMO), that provides a free monthly supply of diapers to residents with children under age three who participate in CalWORKs and, starting in November, CalFresh.
Diaper need, known as the lack of sufficient diapers to keep infants and young children dry, comfortable, and healthy, is a common, distressing, and often hidden issue for low-income parents. Nationally, one in three families struggles with diaper need.
The average monthly diaper bill for a child under age three can range from $80–100 per month. Yet, for the most part, social safety net programs for families do not recognize diapers as a necessity. The cost of diapers is not an allowable expense under federal programs that provide food assistance to young children like SNAP or Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
“We must ensure every child in California is off to a great start. From health problems to being shut out of childcare programs, having little or no access to clean diapers can be hard on families and impact the outcome of a child’s life,” said Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), Chair of the Assembly Budget Committee. “As a father, I know firsthand the reach the Diaper Bank will now have as a result of the increase in state funding.”
California is a leader in pursuing policy strategies to reduce diaper need. The Diaper Bank expansion to CalFresh households in San Francisco is made possible by a $2.5 million grant awarded to HAMO in support of diaper access programs in the Bay Area by the California Department of Social Services. The program expansion doubles eligibility to 2,500 San Francisco children whose families currently receive CalWORKs or CalFresh benefits for cash, employment, or food assistance from HSA.