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Active member Tina Jones checks stacks of sorted diapers prior to packing them for distribution.

The Junior League of New Orleans (JLNO) consistently provides much needed support to the families of our community by organizing, sorting, packing and distributing donated diapers through our Diaper Bank. In response to and in recognition of this need for support in our local community, the Diaper Bank distributed a staggering 1,053,730 diapers in the 2019-2020 League year.

According to Diaper Bank Chair Jessica Roberts, “That number includes an emergency distribution right before Orleans Parish and then Louisiana shutdown to help our families through the crisis.”

Support for this program comes from the JLNO membership, community diaper drives and donations. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, community organizations have continued to provide their support. The Carrollton Booster’s Club Diaper Drive in July collected an impressive 5,063 diapers to contribute to JLNO Diaper Bank, with 2,678 diapers contributed by the winning team, the PMP Chickadees.

September 21 – 27, 2020, marks National Diaper Need Awareness Week, a time to recognize and respond to the struggle faced by one-in-three families in the US, including New Orleans, to provide enough diapers for their babies and toddlers. An average monthly supply of diapers costs approximately $80. With 31% of families in Louisiana earning less than 100% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) and another 24% living in the small range just above the FPL, the cost of diapers can lead to difficult choices for families struggling to meet basic needs while keeping their infants and toddlers clean, dry and healthy.

JLNO supports this vital community initiative. In an attempt to alleviate some of the cost associated with diapers, House Bill 328, sponsored by Louisiana State Representative Aimee Adatto Freeman and effective August 1, 2020, authorizes an exemption from local sales taxes for feminine hygiene products and diapers.

Rep. Freeman shares her vision for the next step: “My hope is that New Orleans and other local municipal governments across Louisiana will eliminate the local sales tax on feminine products and diapers, including adult diapers. Exemption of these necessary items has always been important for Louisiana’s families.” Rep. Freeman goes on to emphasize the need for advocacy specific to the diaper needs of Louisiana’s families, especially during challenging times. “I believe this law is even more important now than before COVID-19 because families are struggling with unemployment challenges and lack of income. Women and children should not have to pay taxes on these basic necessities.”

In an effort to respond to the rising need for diapers resulting from COVID-19, JLNO’s Diaper Bank recently petitioned the National Diaper Bank Network and was awarded a truck from Huggies with nearly 200,000 donated diapers. This large donation allowed the Diaper Bank to distribute in April and May as the pandemic continued and the need for this essential support became even more prevalent for local families.

With legislation and local efforts aimed at relief for struggling families with infants and toddlers, Diaper Needs Awareness week is the perfect time to educate, reflect and respond to this important effort.

 

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The Chickadees celebrate with their trophy. Photo by Jennifer Knecht.

 

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Active members Alyssa Fasano and Emily Barrileau collect diapers at The Fly for JLNO’s Bats for Bottoms diaper drive. Photo by Ann Conger.