KJFS Diaper Bank
Michael Klahr Jewish Family Services (KJFS) continues to proudly serve the Jewish Community and to reach out to those in need throughout Southern Maine. Our programs are designed to meet compelling, immediate needs in ways that demonstrate the commitment to gemilut chasadim (acts of loving kindness) in the service of tikkun olam (repairing the world).
Let’s talk about how Michael Klahr Jewish Family Services is addressing Diaper Need in Maine!
What is diaper need? Diaper need is a serious issue, not only throughout the US, but right here in Maine. Approximately 1 in 3 families nationwide report experiencing diaper need, yet existing safety-net programs such as SNAP and TANF do not support the purchase of diapers. Families are forced to make heart-wrenching choices between paying for rent or groceries and buying diapers. A baby who sits in a diaper too long is more susceptible to infections, leading to missed work for the parents and potential medical bills for treatment. It’s a cycle no family deserves to be in, and the Michael Klahr Jewish Family Services Diaper Bank is doing something about it.
What is the Michael Klahr Jewish Family Services (KJFS) Diaper Bank? We’re the only diaper bank in Southern Maine registered with the National Diaper Bank Network. This partnership allows KJFS to consistently purchase diapers in bulk at a reduced cost and distribute them both directly to families, and to area agencies serving families experiencing diaper need.
What does that mean exactly? Diapers that would cost a family $20 to purchase at the store cost KJFS just over $10. So, in short, we can turn modest cash gifts into a LOT of diapers.
How can you help? While we appreciate direct donations of supplies, your dollar donation goes twice as far, twice as quickly, and most importantly: your dollar donation enables us to provide consistency in our services — an imperative to this type of work. Please visit www.mainejewish.org/michaelklahrjewishfamilyservices/supportjewishfamilyservices/ to donate today.
If you or someone you know is experiencing diaper need, there are several ways to connect with our services:
- Call the Jewish Community Alliance at (207)772-1959 and leave a message. KJFS staff will return your call and can access interpreter services as needed.
- During the COVID-19 pandemic, KJFS is offering a no-contact diaper drive through service every 2 months. Call KJFS and we will make every effort to add you to our schedule.
- If your baby is a patient with the MaineHealth clinics, let your doctor know you are experiencing diaper need at your next well-child visit. You will be provided with a supply of KJFS diapers and a referral will be made to KJFS for future need.
- If you receive services through The Opportunity Alliance Family and Community Support Programs or Gateway Community Services, your case manager has access to KJFS diapers and can help
- Several area pantries are partnered with KJFS and distributing KJFS diapers in addition to food; please visit Life Essentials in South Portland, The South Portland Food Cupboard, St. Elizabeth’s Jubilee Center, or the Falmouth Food Pantry
- KJFS diapers are also available to families living at the Portland Family Shelter and members of Congolese Brazzaville, In Her Presence, Presente Maine, Cambodian Community of Maine, and the Congolese Community of Maine.
This year, KJFS became the first National Diaper Bank Network participant in Maine; through the purchasing power of the network, we are now able to access diapers and wipes for significantly less than retail price. With the support of many donors and a generous grant from the Fruhman Family Foundation, this year we will distribute nearly 300,000 diapers.
Unfortunately, diaper need is a significant issue in Southern Maine, with many families facing the heartbreaking challenge of deciding between buying diapers, food, or paying rent each month. We offer diapers to families who visit our food pantry, and we also distribute diapers to 14 partnering local pantries. KJFS now also distributes menstrual hygiene products and adult incontinence products.
Learn more about our Diaper Bank by watching this video in which Klahr Jewish Family Services was recently featured on Newscenter Maine.
KJFS Diaper Bank in the News
KJFS Teams Up with the NCJW to Meet the Needs of Low-Income Menstruators
KJFS has worked hard to evolve programs based on the needs of the community. For many of the women who visit the KJFS Food Pantry, there has been an increased request for menstrual hygiene products (pads, tampons, etc.). KJFS Student Intern, Morgan Dickey, began to reach out to organizations across the country to find access to reasonably priced products and developed a partnership with Period. The Menstrual Movement in Portland, Oregon. Period. The Menstrual Movement mission is to manage and celebrate menstrual hygiene through advocacy, education, and service-- through the global distribution of feminine hygiene product care packages to women in need, and the engagement of youth leadership with our nationwide network of campus chapters. KJFS received its first shipment of products in November and distributed packages to 150 women. As the program grows and requests increase, KJFS is thrilled to partner with the Maine Chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) to consistently have product on its shelves! NCJW’s generous support will provide KJFS the capacity to continue to distribute menstrual hygiene products to over 100 women per month for the next year!