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Philadelphia on Wednesday launched a new initiative to help struggling mothers with babies get supplies, including a list of sites around the city where they can pick up diapers and food.
Within 40 minutes of the program being announced, one of the sites had already fielded a call from a woman looking to do a pickup, said Robert Jones, director of government programs at the Nutritional Development Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
The mother asked a bunch of questions about what she’d need to bring — identification? Proof of income? — and Jones was happy to tell her she didn’t have to worry about any of that. Just a name, a phone number, and a zip code, for tracking purposes.
“We were excited,” Jones said, to be able to expand services at his organization, which usually runs food programs for kids. “Two days ago at this time I had no idea I’d be distributing diapers.”
More than half of Philadelphia babies are born to mothers who lack financial stability, various reports have shown. With the pandemic leaving supermarkets empty of items designated for people getting WIC assistance, and forcing many regular service locations to cut hours, diapers can be difficult to come by.
The city’s 10 diaper pickup sites, all of which will be available starting next week, include some places that are used to giving out baby supplies, like the Philadelphia Interfaith Hospitality Network, as well as some that don’t, like childhood literacy org Mighty Writers.
Jones said his organization, located in Center City at 17th and Race, joined the list after getting a direct request from Philly’s Health Department.
He then reached out to the Greater Philadelphia Diaper Bank, where director Pat Kennedy helped him navigate the diaper world. “I’ll start you off with 500 of each size,” she told Jones, who is traveling to a warehouse in Kensington today to pick them up.
Jones’ center will start distribution next Tuesday, and will offer mothers a week’s worth of breakfasts along with the diapers. Other sites are offering formula as well. There’s also a free code (PHILLY) to register for Pacify, an app that gives breastfeeding advice.
Some diaper pickup locations require calling in advance for an appointment during designated days and times, and some are open for walkup.
Check them out here or in the map below (click on a pin for more details).