Legislators address diaper shortages for families in need

House Republicans Ryan Spain (R-Peoria) and Jennifer Sanalitro (R-Hanover Park) have led the charge to address diaper shortages for families in need in their respective communities by hosting Diaper Drives. Spain has hosted a Holiday Diaper Drive for six consecutive years in the Peoria area, while Sanalitro just hosted her first Diaper Drive from April 14-May 12, with six drop-off locations in the Carol Stream, Bloomingdale and Itasca areas.

Rep. Spain has made community events like these a priority during his time in the House, and his two-week Diaper Drive in December 2022 included asking for diapers, baby wipes and diaper rash cream donations. Spain also hosted a two-hour drive-thru donation event during the drive where he personally collected donations. Children under the age of 5 represent 13 percent of the state’s SNAP (food stamp program) recipients and more than 25 percent of WIC (Women, Infant, Children food assistance program) recipients are infants. Diapers cost an average of $18 per week and just under $1,000 per year per child, and those costs are only going up. According to the National Diaper Bank Network, low income families report a shortage of 50 diapers per month.

“Many people don’t realize that programs like WIC and SNAP do not pay for diapers, rash creams or other infant supplies,” Rep. Spain stated. “Diapers are an essential and often overlooked need for families struggling financially around the holidays.”

In the first five years of Spain’s Holiday Diaper Drives, over 56,000 diapers were collected and distributed to area families through crisis centers, food pantries and other community-based organizations all throughout the 73rd District. Crisis centers and food and diaper pantries located within the 73rd District include locations in Peoria, Princeton, Chillicothe, Eureka, Henry, Lacon, Toulon, and Spring Bay. Spain noted that all of these centers and pantries need year-round support of donations of diapers, wipes and diaper rash creams.

Rep. Sanalitro’s month-long drive included accepting donations for diapers, baby food, baby clothing, baby toys and any related items. Drop-off sites included her district office in Carol Stream, Our Savior Lutheran Church in Carol Stream, ABM Flooring in Bloomingdale, Bloomingdale Township Office in Bloomingdale, Erie Insurance in Carol Stream, and the Itasca Park District Office in Itasca.

Sanalitro’s drive collected a significant amount of diapers and essential baby items. Everything that was collected was donated to the Breakfast with a Baby Foundation. This local organization helps over 100 families by providing necessary items like clothing, toys, and diapers. Additionally, they offer a free breakfast during their monthly event at Our Savior Lutheran Church.

“The support from our community has been amazing,” Rep. Sanalitro stated. “A big thank you to everyone who contributed to helping our neighbors and, most importantly, the babies in our district who need it the most.”