A new program supported by Kaiser Permanente distributes diapers and baby hygiene kits to address family health and community needs in four Bay Area counties.
About 500 families with children in tow stood in line inside Oakland’s Eastmont Town Center one recent Saturday morning. They weren’t queuing for a popular Christmas toy, but rather picking up a kit meant to ensure the health of their young children: filled with diapers and other necessities of baby hygiene.
The long line at Eastmont underscored a much-needed solution to a problem facing local families in need — the increasing numbers of young children being treated at hospitals for rashes and infections related to diaper dermatitis.
On Dec. 10, Bernard J. Tyson, Chairman and CEO of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. and Hospitals, joined U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee and other community organization leaders to help launch the Baby Hygiene Kit Program by Supplybank.org, an Oakland-based nonprofit. Modeled after a community food bank, Supplybank.org is hoping to organize a monthly distribution of diapers and other baby hygiene necessities to families in need in Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, and Solano counties.
Tyson announced a $95,000 grant from Kaiser Permanente Northern California to help launch the program.
“Our commitment to creating healthier communities is at the heart of our mission,” Tyson said during the program kick-off. “Improving the health of our communities begins with understanding and addressing some of the very basic needs of families — like the need for diapers and other baby hygiene items. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of families and help our communities achieve better health.”
The baby hygiene kits from SupplyBank.Org contain diapers, baby wipes, diaper rash cream, and other items. The organization partnered with agencies such as family resource centers and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) sites, as well as nearly 100 county offices of education and domestic violence shelters statewide.
Organizers distributed more than 50,000 diapers, 100,000 baby wipes, and hundreds of diaper backpacks to families during the Eastmont event.
One of the first people in line at Eastmont Mall was Kara Blount, 22, of Oakland. She was grateful to receive diapers and other hygiene supplies for her baby.
“I know my little girl needs hecka stuff,” she said after picking up a backpack with wipes and rash cream, a children’s book, and three bundles of sized diapers. “I really appreciate that this community likes to help people.”
The negative health impacts of diaper need are widespread. More than 600 babies were treated for diaper dermatitis in Alameda County in 2015, along with more than 450 treated for urinary tract infections and hundreds more for related conditions. Statewide, more than 14,500 babies were treated for diaper dermatitis, along with more than 19,000 treated for urinary tract infections and thousands more for related conditions, according to state health planning and development data.
“I am proud of the partnership between SupplyBank.Org and Kaiser Permanente to provide diapers to families in low-income communities,” Rep. Lee said. “Families should never have to choose between keeping their babies healthy and buying food or paying rent, but with 1 in 3 families struggling to afford diapers, many do.”