Families in La Plata, Archuleta and Montezuma counties soon will have increased access to diapers, wipes and formula.
Buyers depleted store inventories of infant supplies at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis. In response, several agencies pulled together $3 million in supplies for families in need. Supplies are in transit to Southwest Colorado, but agencies hope to start distributing them Tuesday, said Heather Hawk, executive director of the Early Childhood Council of La Plata County.
“We help put the right people in contact to get supplies, so we don’t have families putting their health at risk by going to multiple grocery stores looking for one pack of diapers,” Hawk said.
The shipment from the Federal Emergency Management Agency includes about 8,200 cases of formula, 23,300 packages of diapers and 53,200 packages of diaper wipes. The supplies will be distributed from 41 food banks and family resource centers statewide. They are intended for families that are experiencing economic hardship and are unable to meet basic needs.
La Plata and Archuleta counties expect to receive 50 pallets in two shipments, said Mariel Balbuena, executive director of the La Plata Family Centers Coalition. Montezuma County will receive FEMA aid through the Piñon Project.
The Early Childhood Council and family center will then coordinate distribution with the San Juan Basin Health Department, Pine River Shares, Fort Lewis Mesa Elementary and other partners to deliver the supplies to families. Most of the supplies will be distributed through Durango Food Bank, Hawk said.
Durango Food Bank offers drive-up distribution from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays and home deliveries by request only through its website.
Front-line workers at family resource centers and early childhood councils across the state have “urgently” requested supplies, said a Colorado Emergency Operations Center news release.
Before COVID-19, the La Plata Family Center supported about 30 to 40 families per month. After the crisis began, the center served about 80 families a week, Balbuena said.
As supplies at stores and diaper banks were depleted of baby essentials, local resource centers had difficulty purchasing supplies from normal distributors. In the meantime, some families faced unemployment as businesses cut staff or closed doors.
The Statewide Feeding Task Force, Unified Coordination Group, 30 family centers and 34 early childhood councils stepped in.
Local nonprofits, government agencies and other partners quickly organized, Balbuena said.
“It’s unbelievable how fast we were able to come together,” she said.