Access to Diapers Should be a Right, Not a Privilege
The San Francisco Bay Area is an exceptional place to live and raise a family. But it shouldn’t be just for families who can afford it.
“With inflation and high gas prices, increasingly more struggling families can’t afford diapers for their babies,” says Lisa Truong, executive director and founder of Help a Mother Out. “There seems to be a huge disconnect as the income divide is wider than ever.”
Help a Mother Out has been a lifeline for financially strapped families who are forced to choose between buying food, filling their cars with gas, or something as essential as buying diapers for their babies.
Diapers cost upwards of $100 a month and aren’t covered by most public assistance programs. If a family can’t afford diapers, a baby may spend extended periods of time in a soiled or even a re-used diaper, leading to serious health problems. Most childcare programs require a clean supply of diapers. That means families have to take time off work to provide childcare, impacting a family’s ability to become financially self-sufficient.
Truong founded Help a Mother Out (HAMO) in 2009, in the wake of the Great Recession, to help mothers who had fallen on hard times gain access to as many diapers as they needed. Today, across all programs in the Bay Area metropolitan region, HAMO serves over 6,000 families with diaper-age babies and toddlers every month.
Since the pandemic, HAMO has expanded from distributing diapers to providing additional essentials like baby formula, baby wipes, soap, lotion, hand sanitizer, and feminine hygiene products. HAMO is also expanding its San Francisco Diaper Bank to include families on Medi-Cal. Founded in 2015, the SF Diaper Bank is a partnership with the city of San Francisco, and is the nation’s first publicly funded diaper bank. Additionally, HAMO has developed a grassroots advocacy arm, which successfully helped to push the state to include, in its 2022 budget, a $30 million investment over three years to expand diaper banks statewide.
“This movement to expand access to diapers grows each year and is inspiring more people, municipalities, and communities to figure out ways to provide equitable access to diapers for families in need,” Truong says.
Founder and Executive Director: Lisa Truong
Help a Mother Out® works to improve baby and family well being by increasing access to diapers for families in need.
A family’s access to a reliable supply of clean diapers reduces the risk of infectious disease outbreaks, improves baby’s health and comfort, and enables baby’s participation in early care and education programs. Our vision is a day when every baby has a healthy supply of diapers.
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The diaper program has been life-changing. With the money that I don’t spend on diapers, I can buy food for my kids — it makes a big difference. Because right now, when you go to the grocery store, it easily costs $150 for five everyday items.
Every $1 Spent Through Help a Mother Out, Saves Families $2
Help a Mother Out (HAMO) started in 2009 with a $100 investment and two diaper donation bins. Today, HAMO provides 19% of low-income Bay Area families with free diapers. The team’s vision is to scale the HAMO program until every family receives a healthy supply of diapers.
With reliable infrastructure and a cost-effective strategy, HAMO has proved that diaper need is a solvable problem – but they need your help. HAMO is asking for your generosity to raise $1.4 million, in order to scale their services and reach 25% of Bay Area families experiencing diaper need by 2025. And if you donate before the end of 2023, your contribution will be doubled thanks to a donation-match of up to $25,000 from a long-time HAMO supporter. Donate today and help end diaper need so families can focus on what really matters: loving their little ones.
Barr Charitable Trust
California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls
East Bay Community Foundation
Goldman Sachs Philanthropy Fund
Jewish Community Federation
Marin Community Foundation
San Francisco Foundation
San Francisco Junior League