Lots of Americans can’t afford diapers, but the White House has a fascinating solution.
How distributors, manufacturers, and the White House are working together for good.
There’s a big diaper problem in America that no one’s really talking about.
Nearly 1 out of every 3 families in the United States report they often can’t afford to buy diapers when they need them, the White House states. Plus, low-income households end up spending nearly twice as much on diapers as middle-class folks because they don’t have access to bulk stores that charge less overall for diapers.
This means that every day, millions of American families come face to face with a question that no one should have to ask: "Should I buy diapers for my child or food for my family?"
This reality has led to what politicians are calling the "diaper gap" — a widening gap between folks who can afford the diapers their babies need and folks who can’t.
Unlike other essentials like food and health care, the government doesn’t offer federal assistance to low-income households for diaper purchases. Because of this, low-income families end up spending an average $936 per child per year on diapers alone, which means moms end up keeping their babies in dirty diapers longer to save money, too. Research published in Pediatrics shows doing this can lead to diaper rash, infections, and even permanent scarring.
Good news, though: Our good old government has a plan.
This is where things get kind of unusual: Enter Jet.com.
The White House started the conversation with Jet.com, a discount wholesale website, in the most public way they could — via Twitter. It was important for the White House to come clean about this longstanding problem and to make it known publicly they needed assistance from the greater community to find a solution.
Then Jet.com proposed some solutions, but they realized they had to start with bringing in a manufacturing partner to help make more affordable diapers a sustainable reality. Enter Cuties diapers.
Cuties discovered that the key to making diapers cheaper wasn’t even about cutting corners in diaper quality, but rather creating more efficient packaging.
So they looked into cutting down on packaging and even found ways to fit more diapers into each package. Eventually they came up with some great ideas, and Jet took it from there.
Together with the White House, Jet.com set up a system that allowed any nonprofit to apply to procure drastically discounted diapers.
They launched the program on March 10, 2016, with the goal of spreading the initiative nationwide through the tributaries of smaller, charitable organizations.
"We’re really just trying to broaden the network of organizations who think about delivering diapers to the families they already serve," Dana Hork, director of brand experience at Jet.com, said in a documentary interview.
Here’s how much cheaper Jet was able to make their diapers (with Cuties’ help, of course):
For an enrolled nonprofit, that price comes down again to just 13 cents per diaper. That means people will end up paying approximately one-fourth of what they used to!
This program has the potential to shrink the diaper gap to nothing, which is a big deal.
According to the National Diaper Bank Network, the program should help distribute at least 10 to 15 million diapers to families who need them this year. While this may not be a permanent solution to the problem, it’s a heck of a good start.
It’s easy to get down on the government for not doing their job (especially these days).
But this all happened because the White House asked the community for help, which is pretty cool. When you see collaborative initiatives like this, you realize there are some wonderful things being accomplished in our government — you just have to look for them.