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Published on February 2nd, 2012 | by Heather Vaughn


Jenn’s Thoughts: Have you ever had to choose between diapers and food? We need your story.

Nine years ago, armed only with a $30 weekly grocery budget and a WIC check, my family was facing the choice between diapers and food. A generous gift enabled us to begin cloth diapering our newborn son when he was four days old. Eight weeks later, we used $100 to start what is now known today as Cotton Babies.

Because of our family’s history, my passion is enabling needy families to have easy access to diapers. Believing that WIC and SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – aka: food stamps) are the ideal way to provide this access, I had several meetings last year with senior-level staffers at both organizations. Everyone has acknowledged the depth of the need, but said that it would take an act of Congress to enable either of these agencies to take any action. Existing legislation confines both agencies to items surrounding nutrition.
The author of the DIAPER Act, Representative Rosa DeLauro, shares my passion for families experiencing diaper need. Last week, I had the privilege of meeting with her to discuss how we can work together to push her DIAPER Act forward. DeLauro and her team believe passionately in the purpose behind this bill, but, to move it forward, we need your help. The Act is supported by research, statistics, and some legislators. Unfortunately, the information being provided to legislators and the media is missing the human element… stories about people like you. Statistics don’t tell stories. Only you can put a face with those numbers.

I’ll be returning to Washington, D.C. in a few weeks to meet again with her team. I’d like to arrive at that meeting with a stack of your stories in a binder. Your face, your baby’s face, your story, where you live, your desire to help your family be in a better place, and how the need to buy diapers impacts your ability to get that job done. Tell your story through the story collector I’ve put together using Survey Monkey. I’ll use your stories to continue building a case for the DIAPER Act in Washington, D.C. and, with your permission, I’ll share them through my blog.
If you would like to learn more about this project, how to contact your legislator regarding the DIAPER Act and how you can help us spread the word to collect more stories, please visit my blog for the full story.

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About the Author

Heather is mom to four, born within 40 months (single, twins, single). She writes transparently about her chaotic household to encourage others through the twists and turns of parenting.

4 Responses to Jenn’s Thoughts: Have you ever had to choose between diapers and food? We need your story.

  1. I believe the Health Department should have a low-income family service providing rental cloth diapers. The family needs them and may not like the extra work but thier family wont have to do without. I think they should be given so many to rent and when the baby has potty trained return them. Unfortunatley we can’t depend on everyone to be responsible with them but with some structure and guidelines from the health dept. it could be very benificial.

  2. Vicky Swan says:

    Just over a year ago, I made a post on a parenting forum, asking for childrens clothing donations. I was, at the time, not sure where I was going to get the next pack of diapers for my son. I got a reply from a really wonderful lady, with whom I am still friends, who offered to donate some cloth diapers. She sent me 12 diapers, and I washed every night for 3 months. I was eventually able to afford more diapers of my own, but that initial mini-stash helped immensely. I STILL use those diapers.

  3. Shay says:

    In 2008 my husband broke his ankle. Suddenly we were without an income for 3 months. We got some help from family and charities, used out savings but it was tough! We were not able to put back several months worth of income and we don’t know many friends who can. People assumed I could sell my things. I learned pawn shops only takes nearly new computers and won’t take them without a flat screen monitor.

    Some nice CDing moms online sent me some of their extra CDs and I became a CDing mom. I learned to use baby blankets as flats. I still have some of those covers they work on my DD now. I have also passed on diapers to other families in need to keep the trend going.

    I heard certain charities donated disposables but it was hit and miss.

    So now years later with another child. We CD exclusively. We learned she was allergic to disposables unless we used the really expensive ones. We realized recently 2 years nearly of CDing is about the cost of 5-6 months of disposables. Even now that my husband is working think of the drain on our budget that would be. I see those ads for donating disposables. While I was so grateful for the help when we needed it I cannot rely solely on the help of others. Sometimes charities simply don’t have enough to cover the need – then what do you do? I have often thought well if they have CDs could they wash them – do they have money for washing machines or soap etc. Still overall – you can always wash diapers in your bath tub and hang them to dry. I have done it. It works even if it’s less than ideal.

  4. Beccalynn says:

    I have never been in such dire straits that I had to choose between food and diapers, but we were tight on our budget and for the first few months of my daughter’s life, we took $25 out of the food budget to buy pocket diapers 1 or 2 at a time until we had enough to never have to buy them again. I chose cloth diapers so that should things get bad, I’d never have to worry about buying diapers. I now have all that I need–with the help of a sewing machine to mend and fix when necessary. And if we ever wear out ALL of our diapers and really can’t afford any, I’ve learned how to sew them from old T shirts and sweaters. Using cloth diapers has REALLY freed up our budget so I can use all of our food budget on the things that we really need.

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