MARIETTA, Ga. — It's a basic necessity for babies. But the ongoing pandemic and supply-chain issues are making it a struggle for some families to get diapers.
Vivian Mejia is one of those mothers leaning on nonprofit Helping Mamas for support.
"She's like this happy little girl," Mejia told 11Alive about her 9-month-old daughter Kristen who recently accompanied her to a Helping Mamas distribution event. "Super energetic."
Mejia was one of dozens of families who lined up in Marietta for a Helping Mamas mobile event, where the baby supply bank brings diapers and baby supplies directly to the community.
"The need continues to rise," Helping Mamas CEO Jamie Lackey explained. "What we saw with the pandemic, it has not slowed down."
According to the National Diaper Bank Network, one in three families experience diaper need. Federal assistance programs such as SNAP and WIC do not cover diapers, and according to the network, only a small percentage of families qualify for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or TANF.
As a result, Lackey has seen the need increase even more during the pandemic.
In fact, Helping Mamas reported a 167% increase in the number of diapers distributed during the pandemic compared to pre-COVID numbers. According to Lackey, the nonprofit distributed more than 900,000 diapers last year.
As global supply-chain issues continue, some manufactures have since increased prices, putting an additional strain on families.
"You can't cut out diapers," Lackey said. "Diapers are a necessity, and families always need them. So the rise in cost of diapers impacts their ability to be able to purchase diapers as well as people's ability to be able to donate to organizations like ours."
Such hurdles haven't stopped the nonprofit's efforts, however. Lackey and her team remain committed to helping local families.
And those efforts are appreciated by Mejia.
"That's a big help so I can save money for other stuff for [my daughter]," she added.
"You don't even think about it if it's something you haven't had to deal with," Lackey said, adding that there can be a trickle down effect when families don't have an adequate diaper supply.
"When you don't have diapers, you can't go to child care," she said. "And if you don't have child care, you can't go to work, and that's the basic message we're trying to get out. Access to basic needs matters. It helps moves families forward."