Some moms-to-be “nest” by decorating or organizing. Megan Fischer started a nonprofit.
Sixteen thousand babies and toddlers in Greater Cincinnati go without clean diapers every day — and that’s a conservative estimate. When Fischer was expecting her second baby in 2015, she started Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank to serve this dire need.
For parents struggling to pay the bills each month, disposable diapers can quickly become prohibitively expensive, as diapers are generally not covered by any government assistance. Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank partners with local social service agencies to provide free diapers to low-income families while raising awareness of Cincinnati’s diaper need. Cincinnati Parent chatted with Fischer about starting Sweet Cheeks, eliminating diaper need and what’s next for this growing company.
Having kids changes the way you see the world. Is diaper need something you’d ever thought about before having kids?
I don’t think I ever once thought of diaper need before having kids. I just assumed that, as a society, we provided clean diapers to babies who didn’t have them. When you’re pregnant, the hormones just take over, so when I first read about diaper need and realized the need that we have in Greater Cincinnati, I cried in my cube at work. I couldn’t believe there are parents who have to choose to leave their baby in a diaper for two days or reuse a disposable diaper. It’s so hard to be a parent, and I can’t imagine what it feels like to not have the [necessary] tools you need.
How does the program work?
We work through partner social service agencies to distribute diapers and feminine hygiene products to families in need. Our products become an added incentive to programs that are helping lift families out of poverty. Partner agencies place an order with us, pick up [products] from our warehouse once a month, and then distribute them the next time they see their clients.
We didn’t want to be another stop for families who need different things and might not have time or reliable transportation. Getting as many things in one place is much more effective and helpful.
How can Cincinnati parents get involved?
We are currently distributing close to 150,000 diapers each month, and we purchase quite a few of those. We have special buying channels where we can buy 2-3 times more diapers, in the exact sizes we need, than someone going to the store and buying retail. Cash donations are always appreciated so we can properly size-match the 3,000 kids we’re serving each month.
We also need close to 400 volunteer hours a month to get all our diaper orders wrapped and filled for our partner agencies. People can sign up through the volunteer section of our website, or coordinate with our program manager to bring in a group of friends, coworkers, family, etc. Volunteering with us is also a great activity for kids of all ages!
What are your hopes for Sweet Cheeks in the future?
I want Sweet Cheeks to be one of the biggest diaper banks in the country, and especially in our region. I want to be able to expand to serve more of Kentucky and Eastern Ohio, where there is a lot of diaper need that isn’t being served by a diaper bank yet. I want us to expand into adult incontinence supplies because it’s a much-needed service and something people aren’t aware of or talking about. I also want to be an exceptional employer — I want us to be a destination for employment because we take care of our staff so well.