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CNY Diaper Bank only meeting 25% of need in Onondaga County, Gillibrand calls for federal change

Ellen Abbott
WRVO Public Media
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, left, with Michaela Hugo at the CNY Diaper Bank.

The Central New York Diaper Bank distributes one million diapers to needy families every year. But even as the nonprofit grows, it’s still not meeting a staggering need. 

Michaela Hugo started the CNY Diaper Bank three years ago to help low income families stressed with the need to buy expensive disposable diapers, which are not covered by any form of public assistance. This year, they distributed one million diapers, and moved from a small storefront in a dying mall, to a large warehouse in Liverpool. Still, with 100,000 diapers distributed to families through not-for-profit agencies every month, many families in Onondaga County still go without.

Credit Ellen Abbott
WRVO News (file photo)
The CNY Diaper Bank.

"We know we are meeting probably about a quarter of the need in the county, and that’s not to mention the areas outside of the county; a lot of rural areas that we’re not reaching yet," Hugo said.

Moving forward, there may be help from a high-powered volunteer. U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand stopped in over the holiday season to help wrap packages of diapers. She said she will look at changing federal rules to make WIC dollars available for food and basic necessities like diapers.

"It’s all about priorities,” Gillibrand said. “I think for most people, they don’t know that it’s an issue. But with your advocacy, you’re raising awareness. So now, more people will donate diapers, will care for this, and create support for a change in federal law, when I try to find bipartisan support for that.”

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.