Very few people realize how many babies are supported through the Storehouse. Further, when giving to a food pantry most people simply don’t think about donating formula or baby foods. However, babies are expensive and their families are often surprised by just how much it costs to cover their needs. It can be difficult for a low-income family to make ends meet when they add an infant to their household. Especially when they are also paying the cost of the hospital bills for the birth. Not to mention dealing with the higher costs of rent and food we are facing today. As a result, lots of young families count on organizations such as the Storehouse to help, not only for their food needs, but for the formula, baby food, and diapers they need to get by.
How Expensive is Baby Formula?
Baby foods and formula are more expensive than you might realize. A baby food calculator online estimates that baby formula costs between $400 to $800 a month for powdered formula. While that figure is for babies who are formula-fed exclusively, and many babies are also breast fed, it is eye opening to realize how costly it is. If a child needs a special hypoallergenic formula the costs are even higher.
The Storehouse offers powdered formula for babies in need. The powdered formulas are lower cost and are also good because they are shelf stable and last a longer time on your pantry shelf or ours. Our intake team always asks if families who visit the pantry have a baby in the home. If so, they are offered a box of baby supplies in addition to the usual free groceries from the Storehouse.
What Does Baby Food Cost?
According to the World Health Organization, it’s important to introduce small amounts of food around 6 months of age. Then, as those are tolerated, gradually increase the variety of foods offered. Over time, you increase food consistency, too. Through the Storehouse, our tiniest baby clients get pureed foods or very simple cereals that are thin and smooth. We also keep chunkier soft foods at the pantry for growing toddlers.
It’s important that the Storehouse provides some baby food. After a baby starts to eat solid foods, costs can run from $98 to $230 per month. With so many New Mexican families living paycheck to paycheck those extra costs add up. In a pinch, some families use cow’s milk or soy milk in place of formula, or mash up what the rest of the family is eating, but that’s not always ideal. Baby foods have additional vitamins and minerals added in to meet a baby’s nutritional needs because babies grow and change rapidly their first year or two.
Experts say that food costs are about 18 percent of the total cost of raising a child. That’s second only to housing.
Diapers are Costly, Too!
Diapers average 29 cents each, depending on the brand and size needed. Initially, that sounds reasonable. However, when you consider that infants require up to 12 diapers a day for the first year, and toddlers need about 8 diapers daily, the costs add up quickly. Parenting calculators advise new parents to plan to pay $70 to $80 per month for disposable diapers and to expect to use a whopping 2,500 to 3,000 diapers a year.
It’s Important for the Storehouse to Provide for Babies
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a child costs two-parent families in the U.S. between $9,300 and $23,380 every year on average. (That number is in 2015 dollars, the latest data available.) This wide range takes into account factors like income level, the location where the family lives, and the age of the child. Still, even the lowest number in the range is substantial. These expenses are very difficult for low-income families to manage, especially in New Mexico where so many people are a bill or two away from skipping meals. That’s why the Storehouse feels the need to offer special baby boxes with food, formula, and diapers to the families that come to the pantry.
To continue to meet this important need, the Storehouse is raising awareness about our need for baby items during May 2023. People don’t often think to give baby foods or diapers to the food pantry, but we go through a lot of it. Currently, we are running low on baby supplies, so a special drive is happening.
How You Can Help Local Babies
If you’d like to pitch in to help the Storehouse meet the need for baby items, there are a few ways to do that. First, you can donate securely to help us pay for baby needs. Do that on our donate page. Second, you can request a collection box and host your own baby food, formula and diaper drive. We especially need the larger sizes of diapers as well as pull-up disposable training pants. Just contact Samantha Chavez at (505)341-7128 or SChavez@StorehouseNM.org to get involved. Third, you can buy some baby food or diapers and drop them off at the Storehouse, 106 Broadway Blvd SE. Just come to our back door (opposite Broadway on the east side of the building) between 8 am and 2:00 pm Monday through Saturday.
However you choose to help, you’ll be making a difference in the lives of some of our tiniest Storehouse clients. Not to mention supporting their families.
Smart Asset. 2022. The Cost of Baby Formula. https://smartasset.com/financial-advisor/the-cost-of-baby-formula.
United States Department of Agriculture. 2017. Expenditures on Children by Families, 2015. https://fns-prod.azureedge.us/sites/default/files/resource-files/crc2015-march2017.pdf
U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2020. The cost of raising a child. https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2017/01/13/cost-raising-child