Read how reporter Janelle Ward reported this piece for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: How organizations are working to diminish diaper need and where to find free products
No matter one’s economic status, raising a child is expensive. But for parents and guardians in poverty, these expenses can be even more challenging to regularly afford. When I received the pitch to cover diaper need in Atlanta, I wasn’t aware how costly disposable diapers could be for the average family. Looking into data and reading stories of baby supply insecurity in Georgia was eye-opening, especially at a time where inflation is at a record high across the country.
I began my research looking into the problem of “diaper need” directly. I browsed the National Diaper Bank Network website for national and statewide statistics to understand the enormity of the issue. I was shocked by the statistics I found; so many families depend on creative methods to stretch out their diaper supplies to ensure they last as long as possible. I wanted to shift my thinking to why diaper need had grown to such a big issue. This led me to research the global supply chain shortage and explain how it impacts store shelves and prices all over the country. I also highlighted the prices of disposable diaper packs at different grocery stores in the area to further place into perspective how these supply shortages affect local communities as well as larger markets.
I then looked up nonprofit organizations in the metro Atlanta area working to provide free resources, which is how I discovered Helping Mamas. The organization has grown immensely over the past 6 years and adjusted its method of outreach to better suit metro Atlantans during the pandemic. I spoke with Jamie Lackey, founder and chief executive officer of Helping Mamas, about how her organization plays a role in diminishing diaper need. I also spoke with Maria Henriquez, director of Medicaid plan marketing at Amerigroup Georgia about the initiatives she and her team take to help needy families.
Diapers, disposable or otherwise, are necessary for babies to remain healthy as they grow to become toddlers, which makes diaper availability an issue connected to health care. The health care beat on the Covering Poverty website gave me great questions to ask myself as I carried out the reporting and writing process.
Janelle Ward is a senior at the University of Georgia.