Here is one indicator: Diapers have moved from necessity to luxury in many low-income households. That’s what a new Yale University study published in Pediatrics magazine has revealed. Researchers found that almost 30 percent of low-income women with young children cannot afford to buy enough of them. Latinas and grandmothers raising grandchildren find themselves most often in this dilemma, according to the study, which surveyed 877 low-income women in and around New Haven, Conn.
Some women in the Yale study reported spending 6 percent of their total income on diapers, which can run up to $100 a month, especially in barrios, where most women don’t have cars and rely on local bodegas and convenience stores. “Three in 10 poor mothers report they cannot afford an adequate supply of diapers,” the researchers concluded. This not only hurts the babies but the mothers, too.
The inability to afford something so basic as diapers is a window into the harsh reality of being poor in America today. But diapers are just part of the problem. The Department of Agriculture says that 17.6 million households experience hunger regularly. And, of the 23 million households that receive food stamps, three-quarters include children, the disabled or the elderly. Yet House Republicans think this is the right time to kick 4 million to 6 million food stamp recipients out of the program. There is something terribly wrong when we, as a society, can’t ensure that every young child is getting enough to eat and is not having to sit around in a soiled diaper.
Juleyka Lantigua-Williams is a writer for Progressive Media Project.