San Francisco First in the Nation to Offer Free Diapers to all Families on Public Benefits
San Francisco, CA — Today, Mayor London N. Breed and the San Francisco Human Services Agency (SFHSA) announced the expansion of the San Francisco Diaper Bank, the nation’s first city-funded program that provides diapers for low-income families on public benefits. Today’s announcement expands the City’s Diaper Bank program eligibility to any family that receives Medi-Cal coverage. Previously only offered to CalWORKs and CalFresh recipients, the program’s expansion doubles the number of eligible families and means all low-income children under age three receiving public benefits in San Francisco can receive free diapers through the San Francisco Diaper Bank.
“San Francisco’s Diaper Bank is a tangible and powerful example of how we address the needs of our families. This expansion enables us to provide diapers for all low-income children in San Francisco receiving public benefits, removing a financial burden that sadly, far too many families face,” said Mayor Breed. “This program strengthens the Citywide Children and Family Recovery plan by ensuring the basic needs of all of our children are met as we continue to emerge from the pandemic.”
The average monthly diaper bill for a child under three years old can range from $80-$100 per month, with infants needing up to twelve diapers a day and toddlers about eight a day. Yet, most state and federal safety net programs for families do not currently recognize diapers as a necessity.
The high cost of diapers creates a “diaper need” for low-income families, which is the lack of a sufficient supply to keep an infant or child clean, dry, and healthy. More than a third of families in the United States experience diaper need and are forced to make difficult decisions, often choosing between diapers and other necessities such as groceries, rent, and clothing. By alleviating the heavy burden of the cost of diapers for low-income parents and caregivers, the San Francisco Diaper Bank increases families’ ability to pay for other necessities.
“The San Francisco Diaper Bank aligns with the San Francisco Human Services Agency’s vision where everyone has the opportunity and support to achieve their full potential through all stages of life,” said SFHSA Executive Director Trent Rhorer. ‘One of the many reasons we’re proud to expand the Diaper Bank is that it addresses racial and systemic inequities that start as early as infanthood, removing obstacles many families face to child care and early education.”
In a recent San Francisco Diaper Bank participant survey conducted between February and March 2021, 94% of families surveyed indicated that they feel less stressed, and the same percentage said their children are healthier. In addition, 90% said they had more money for food, and 87% said it was easier to pay their bills.
Because a supply of clean diapers is required to attend most childcare programs, the San Francisco Diaper Bank increases access to these programs for low-income infants and toddlers, promoting their healthy development and well-being, and significantly increasing caregivers’ ability to work and go to school.
“Choosing between a clean diaper for your baby and rent, food, or transportation is a choice no parent should have to make, yet it’s a choice many in our community face daily,” said Lisa Truong, Founder and Executive Director of Help a Mother Out. “We believe diapers should be part of the social safety net, and the San Francisco Diaper Bank is an important step in that direction.”
In 2015, SFHSA partnered with Help a Mother Out (HAMO), a Bay Area non-profit that works to improve baby and family well-being by increasing access to diapers for families. Together, they launched the San Francisco Diaper Bank to distribute diapers through City and County agencies and a network of culturally appropriate Family Resource Centers. Building on existing infrastructure that supports children and families, San Francisco families receiving CalWORKs, CalFresh, or Medi-Cal benefits are eligible to receive a free monthly supply of diapers each month for their children up to age three.
Since its inception, the San Francisco Diaper Bank has supplied diapers to more than 5,800 San Francisco infants and toddlers, with 95% of the families served identifying as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color; and 48% speak a language other than English at home.
More than 6,400 children in San Francisco live in households participating in CalWORKs, CalFresh, or Medi-Cal. These households are among those most at risk of diaper need. Families with young children are encouraged to apply for CalWORKs, CalFresh, and Medi-Cal to take advantage of diaper benefits and other vital support services. To apply for CalWORKs, CalFresh, or Medi-Cal visit SFHSA.org.
Families who receive CalWORKs, CalFresh, or Medi-Cal in San Francisco can visit one of nine community pick up locations to request free diapers. Program participants are required to show their CalFresh EBT card or Medi-Cal Benefits Identification Card (“BIC card”) and a valid government issued ID card. Participation in the Diaper Bank will not reduce monthly benefit amounts for food and cash assistance. For any questions, call SFHSA at (415) 558-4700.
San Francisco Diaper Bank distribution sites include SFHSA service centers, the Bayview Hunters Point YMCA, Children’s Council of San Francisco, Compass Connecting Point, OMI Family Resource Center, Sunset Family Resource Center, and Visitation Valley Strong Families. For more information, visit: sfdiaperbank.org.
About the San Francisco Human Services Agency
SFHSA serves as the foundation for three City Departments, each with a unique role in supporting San Franciscans. Together, SFHSA builds well-being in communities by offering programs that make children and adults feel connected, valued, and supported. From financial assistance to nutrition, health care coverage, employment, and protective services, SFHSA’s dedicated professionals support all in need. More information at SFHSA.org.
About Help a Mother Out
Help a Mother Out (HAMO) works to improve baby and family well-being by increasing access to diapers for families in need. In addition to running the San Francisco Diaper Bank, the nation’s first publicly funded diaper bank, HAMO distributes diapers to families in need through our Bay Area Diaper Bank program, which is a distribution network of social service partners including family resource centers, voluntary home visiting, facilitated parent support groups, homeless and foster children services, public health departments and others across the Bay Area. HAMO has distributed more than 40 million diapers since its founding by two Bay Area moms in 2009. HAMO is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, with donation opportunities available at helpamotherout.org.