San Mateo County libraries giving out free diaper kits

San Mateo County Libraries have launched a pilot program offering more than 1,800 free diaper kits to support families in need.     

Each kit contains 80 diapers and 200 wipes.     

The program, which launched on Oct. 28, has already provided over 9,500 free diapers to community members, the library system said in a statement. 

Funding for the pilot program comes from Measure K, San Mateo County's voter-approved half-cent sales tax from 2016 that is intended to support critical services.  

"Free diapers and wipes can make a big difference for families struggling with the high cost of living in the Bay Area, especially during the holiday season," Sara McDowell, Library JPA governing board chairperson said in the statement. "San Mateo County Libraries are a trusted resource in our communities, and we are honored to be the ones providing these essential items in a welcoming environment for families and their little ones."       

The rising cost of diapers has created a challenge for families who need these essential items. Data show that low-income families spend approximately 14% of their post-tax income on diapers. The libraries hope to ease some of that financial burden by passing out free diapers during special distribution events once a month.   

Families can pick up kits at no cost on a first-come, first-served basis. No library card, proof of ID, income or any other information will be collected to receive diapers.     

The three-month pilot program is offering diaper kits at 11 remaining events through January at Pacifica Sharp Park and Belmont libraries. Diapers will be available in sizes 1-6 while supplies last. Each event will also offer families a chance to enjoy fun, kid-friendly experiences.     

The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors approved $50,000 of Measure K funds to support the program. Proposed by Supervisor Ray Mueller, the free diapers offering builds on the successful launch of other necessities the library system has made available for free to the public. Previously the libraries have launched free distribution of COVID-19 masks, test kits and period products.      

"In these tough economic times we wanted to make certain people weren't choosing between nutritious food and essentials like diapers, for their children," Mueller said in the statement. "We've seen this work at other libraries in California and wanted to make it happen for our residents here in San Mateo County. Hopefully, this makes the holiday season a little brighter for those in need."     

Upcoming free diaper distribution events will happen at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the Belmont Library and the Pacifica Sharp Park Library. The Belmont Library will also host diaper kit giveaways at 10:30 a.m. on Dec. 2; 2 p.m. on Dec. 16; 10:30 a.m. on Jan. 13; and 10:30 a.m. on Jan. 27.   

The Pacifica Sharp Park Library will also hold diaper kit giveaways at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 30; 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 5; 10:30 a.m. on Dec. 16; 10:30 a.m. on Jan. 6; and 10:30 a.m. on Jan. 20.