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Nonprofit Baby2Baby will manufacture diapers to help families in need

1 in 3 families struggles to afford diapers.
/ Source: TODAY

Diaper need is getting so bad that one nonprofit is going to start manufacturing them.

Requests for diaper donations increased 500% during the pandemic, according to the nonprofit Baby2Baby, while diaper costs rose 10% during the same time.

"When you look at these statistics, you're thinking of a mom having to empty out a diaper, hang it dry and put it back on her baby, or making homemade diapers out of newspapers and towels when you can't afford a diaper. (They are) choosing between a diaper or feeding their family," said Kelly Sawyer Patricof, who with Norah Weinstein is co-CEO of Baby2Baby, a charity that provides diapers, clothing and other basic necessities to families living in poverty.

"In the last year, we received requests for 731 million diapers, which is a 500% increase from pre-pandemic time," Sawyer Patricof told TODAY Parents. "You can see how families are struggling even more since COVID and there’s a long road ahead, so when we can provide families with diapers, they can put food on the table, pay their rent, and hopefully get back on their feet."

Baby2Baby will manufacture diapers at 6 cents per diaper, far below the average retail cost to consumers.

"Our manufacturing decision came from requests. It's impossible to give from donations alone," Weinstein said. "Diapers are not covered by WIC or SNAP, formerly known as food stamps. I think people are really surprised by that."

Baby2Baby provides children living in poverty with diapers, clothing and all the basic necessities that every child deserves.

"When you have your own child you see what it takes and how much it takes and how expensive it is to have a baby and what diapers cost, what formula costs... all of the essentials that you need to have a family," Sawyer Patricof explained. "When you think about a single mom or a family struggling, what that must feel like not to be able to provide your family with essentials, that inspired both of us to help mothers and families in need."

In the last 10 years, Baby2Baby has distributed more than 200 million items to children in homeless shelters, domestic violence programs, foster care, hospitals and schools as well as to children who have lost everything in the wake of disaster.

Weinstein told TODAY Parents that half of those 200 million items were given out since the coronavirus pandemic began.

"One hundred million have been given out in the last 18 months," Weinstein told TODAY. "We believe that really speaks to the increased need and the demand on low income families. We equaled what we have done in eight and a half years in the last one and a half years."

Sawyer Patricof added that COVID-19 has put more stress on communities that were already struggling.

"Before the pandemic, 1 in 3 families already couldn’t afford diapers," she said, adding that diaper prices have increased more than 10% in the last year. "Packages that were costing $25 last year are $40 (now) and fewer diapers are inside them. Parents are paying more for less."

Baby2Baby Chief Operating Officer Jennifer Armstrong told TODAY diapers are the fourth highest expenditure for families.

"When you think about what families are really struggling with it's rent, food, utilities, and then diapers," Armstrong said, adding that Baby2Baby has distributed in all 50 states within the last 18 months. "It’s really a crisis."