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Diaper bank helps financially struggling Ventura County families: 500,000 free diapers distributed

Jess Weihe, with the Conejo Community Outreach's Community Diaper Bank, deals with diapers delivered to her Newbury Park home. The home serves as the distribution point for families in Ventura County.

Conejo Community Outreach's Community Diaper Bank seeks help itself this week, with Fill The Truck event to gather diaper donations.

The pandemic has hit home in many ways on the Central and South Coasts. But, there’s one impact you might not get unless you are a parent.

It’s hard enough trying to pay rent, or buy food if you lost your job. But, if you have young children, how do you buy diapers?

John Nitowski of Newbury Park and his wife have been facing that issue. They have a three year old, and a four year old.

"I got laid off during COVID, and money was tight," said Nitowski. "They're (the diapers are) very expensive, out of hand expensive."

The couple found help from a grassroots non-profit created by some Conejo Valley mothers. The moms created a community diaper bank.

"Our non-profit, Conejo Community Outreach, started our diaper bank back in 2018," said Jess Weihe, who is a board member with the non-profit. "We weren't really aware of any dedicated diaper bank in the county."

Weihe is a huge supporter of the Community Diaper Bank effort. The non-profit is using her home as the distribution site for the diapers.

The Community Diaper Banks has distributed more than 500,000 diapers in the county since 2018.

While the program effort started in 2018, the pandemic pushed the demand through for the roof. The diaper bank recently passed out its 500,000th diaper.

Eligible families can receive about 120-140 diapers a month for newborns and infants, to around 30 overnight diapers a month for older children. They also receive baby wipes. It's not enough to last a month, but families can save hundreds of dollars which they can then use for food, and other essentials.

Weihe is a mother herself. She says some of the stories they hear from families are sad, as they struggle to balance things like rent, food, and diapers. She says studies have shown diaper insecurity can be worse than food insecurity, causing mental stress for parents. It can mean parents don't change diapers as often as they need to, or even try to clean and reuse disposable diapers.

Diapers can cost $1,000 a year for a young child, depending on their size. And, costs have skyrocketed, with some popular brands doubling in price during the last two years.

The grass roots diaper bank survives on community support. The organization has about 200 regular contributors, and will occasionally get a grant or a donation from a service club.

Weihe says they are doing a big Fill The Truck event this weekend to gather critically needed diapers.

People can go online to donate money to support the drive, or bring boxes of diapers in person to Newbury Park High School from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.