Fighting COVID-19, Supporting Community, Creating Jobs

Assemblymember Wicks, First 5 County Commissions and SupplyBank.org Rally for 50-County Diaper Bank Program in State Budget


[June 1, 2021] Oakland, California – Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, First 5 Alameda County, First 5 Santa Clara County, First 5 Solano County, First 5 Contra Costa County, SupplyBank.Org, the Alameda County Building and Constructions Council and others rallied at BANANAS in Oakland today to promote a $10 million budget proposal that will ensure all 58 counties in California have a robust diaper bank program.

To address the growing issue of “diaper need,” Assemblymember Wicks, with the support of more than 60 organizations, is proposing to expand state-funded diaper bank programs throughout California. This critical investment would leverage more than $8 million in existing appropriations as part of the state’s COVID emergency supplies response, building upon the existing Diaper Bank Program to provide a statewide reach through existing efforts in 50 counties.

The widespread issue of “diaper need,” or an insufficient supply of diapers to keep a baby clean and dry, affected 1 in 3 American mothers prior to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Costing up to one hundred dollars per month, diapers are often the highest unaddressed cost burden for low-income families, accounting for up to 14% of a household budget on cash aid. The pandemic has since exacerbated this ongoing burden for low-income parents, highlighting the urgent need for targeted funding to provide families and their infants with relief.

“I’m a mom to a baby girl in diapers – I know firsthand how expensive they are, and how foundational they are to her health and well-being,” said Asm. Wicks, who has two daughters, ages 4 and 10 months. “This cost burden escalates quickly for low-income families, and the health consequences are swift – more than 400,000 California hospital visits were tied to diaper need in the last decade. This budget proposal will help keep babies and their parents from ever being put in that frightening situation, and ensure that every California community has a diaper bank program to prevent that nightmare from happening.”

Diaper and wipe distribution expanded to all 58 counties during the pandemic as part of an emergency supplies program jointly administered by First 5 County Commissions, their network of partners and SupplyBank.Org, but that resource will end in 50 counties this year without immediate state action.

“It is necessary to support the economic security of all families as we work toward an equitable recovery from the pandemic,” said Kristin Spanos, Chief Executive Officer of First 5 Alameda County. “Diapers are expensive and because of cost and tight family budgets, many families find themselves in the terrible position of changing diapers less often to save money. As a result, babies can experience painful, severe diaper rash. Lack of access to diapers can also inhibit access to child care where diapers are required, and thus limit parent’s ability to work. Our work with SupplyBank.Org has served as an effective model for leveraging existing connections with trusted local partners to provide access to diapers for families and caregivers. We know meeting families’ basic needs is crucial for our communities and kids, and we urge the Legislature to include the proposal in this year’s budget.”

Including diaper kits consisting of 80-100 diapers and 200 baby wipes, the diaper bank program has served thousands of families throughout the region and state by distributing through localized community based organizations identified by First 5. In Oakland this includes BANANAS, a nonprofit child care resource and referral agency serving the diverse families in Northern Alameda County.

“Providing diapers to low-income families is extremely helpful and necessary and ensures our kiddos are able to be outside, play and go to child care,” said Kym Johnson, Executive Director of BANANAS. “Our families are so appreciative of the monthly diaper kits which frees up money they need to spend on other necessary items for their household such as rent, food and clothing.” The program is also able to procure diapers and wipes for a fraction of their in-store cost, which supporters point out is not an option available for the families it serves.

The approach of integrating resources like diapers and wipe distribution through existing organizations such as First 5 and their partners like BANANAS, is central to the program’s model and ability to provide other resources. “The addition of diaper and wipe distribution through this network ensures that those who need assistance the most receive it,” said Benito Delgado-Olson, Executive Director of the nonprofit SupplyBank.Org. “These partnerships enable stigma-free access for families, further strengthen relationships with community members and providers, and provide outreach channels for other critical resources during disasters such as the Pandemic and wildfires. It’s a vital investment for our families.”

The State Legislature has a deadline to pass a budget by June 15 of this year.


About Assemblymember Buffy Wicks: Assemblymember Buffy Wicks represents the East Bay in the California State Assembly. Elected in 2018 and re-elected in 2020, her district spans the communities of Oakland to Richmond, and includes the City of Berkeley. Asm. Wicks’ work in the Assembly focuses on housing, expanding the social safety net, protecting consumers’ privacy, and championing the rights of women and working families. Governor Gavin Newsom signed eight of her bills in her first year in office, and – despite the challenges brought on by the COVID pandemic – signed seven of her bills into law in 2020. A lifelong community organizer, Asm. Wicks previously served on both of President Barack Obama’s campaigns, and worked for him in the White House. She lives in Oakland with her husband, Peter, and daughters, Jojo and Elly. Source.

About BANANAS: We’re a nonprofit child care resource and referral agency serving the diverse families in Northern Alameda County. We offer workshops, classes, and support groups for parents and caregivers, and help connect families with all types of child care options, from babysitters and nannies to preschools and family child care centers.

About First 5 Alameda County: First 5 Alameda County builds the local childhood systems and supports needed to ensure our county’s youngest children are safe, healthy, and ready to succeed in school and life. Our Mission: In partnership with the community, we support a county-wide continuous prevention and early intervention system that promotes optimal health and development, narrows disparities, and improves the lives of children from birth to age five and their families. Our Vision: Every child in Alameda County will have optimal health, development, and well-being to reach their greatest potential. Learn more at www.first5alameda.org.

About SupplyBank.Org: SupplyBank.Org is the nonprofit building the nation’s first “supply bank” (like a food bank, but for supplies) to address the unmet material needs of low-income children and families. Leveraging the best practices of regional food banks, SupplyBank.Org centralizes procurement and in-kind donations to provide upwards of $3 worth of basic necessities for every $1 invested. In the past few years, we have provided more than $27 million worth of materials including diapers and wipes, hygiene supplies, PPE, school supplies and other items to hundreds of thousands of low-income children and families throughout California. By distributing materials through a statewide network of partnering agencies that provide additional resources supporting pathways out of poverty, we aim to both alleviate the immediate symptoms of unmet material needs and empower families to work towards self-sufficiency.



Increased Community Need During COVID-19 Leads CVOC and SupplyBank.org to Leverage Job Training Program to Deliver Essential Aid to Families

[April 1, 2021] Merced, California – An effort to deliver diapers, period supplies, PPE and other essential needs to organizations supporting farm workers and others hit hard by COVID-19 has evolved into something much more impactful. The Central Valley Opportunity Center (CVOC), the leading vocational and community support organization in the Central Valley and SupplyBank.org hosted an event to highlight the achievement of the joint-agencies’ COVID-relief efforts supporting hundreds of thousands of local families and creating new local jobs.

CVOC’s truck driving school trains displaced workers to become truck drivers and this partnership utilizes the delivery of essential supplies as hands-on training. “The pandemic has forced everyone in the Central Valley to rethink how we serve the community. Poverty has hit harder and deeper than ever before. Families are struggling to access even the most basic items like diapers, wipes, PPE, and sanitizer,” said Jorge De Nava Jr., Executive Director of CVOC.

“We combined SupplyBank.org’s model with our truck driving school. Together, we can procure supplies in massive quantities and then deliver the supplies to our communities ourselves. We can then provide more relief across the valley,” he added.

The pandemic has made even the most basic supplies unaffordable to millions of Californians. Through this partnership, CVOC and SupplyBank.org have made sure local agencies across the region can provide their community with essential supplies.

“SupplyBank.org works to support pathways out of poverty as we collaborate with our statewide network of partners to address some of the worst symptoms of it. The CVOC partnership does this. Hiring their truck driving school for our shipping needs for our COVID-response programs in the Central Valley, enables us to ensure the most vulnerable in our community have the materials they need to reduce spread of the Virus while supporting local job creation,” said Benito Delgado-Olson, Executive Director of SupplyBank.Org.

“Starting as a pilot project prior to the Pandemic for diapers and other essentials, it expanded out of necessity to serve thousands of local families during COVID-19,” Delgado-Olson of SupplyBank.org added. “The innovative CVOC partnership is the right way to provide the community with essential supplies, create jobs and a model to grow throughout California and the nation.”

The impacts of the program and partnership have enabled trusted community-based organizations to support their most vulnerable families. “We had one family with six children infected with COVID-19 early on in the Pandemic,” said Mattie Mendez, Executive Director of the Community Action Partnership of Madera County. “The diapers, PPE and other essentials provided by CVOC and SupplyBank.Org partnership allowed CAP-MC to ensure this family’s essential material needs were met when most needed. This partnership is a win-win for our agencies and the communities we serve.”

Left to right: Jorge De Nava Jr., Executive Director, Central Valley Opportunity Center
Benito Delgado-Olson, Executive Director, SupplyBank.org
Mattie Mendez, Executive Director, Community Action Partnership of Madera County
Ramiro Velásquez, Trucking Instructor, Central Valley Opportunity Center

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