By Mike S Payton, Contributing Reporter
DELRAY BEACH, FLORIDA – The Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies (HMHB) organization is opening one of its three Basics4Babies emergency pantry today from 10AM to 3PM in Greenacres, just north of Boynton, at 4601 Lake Worth Road. They have also have shifted to a drive-through service for safety and ease of access for families.
The emergency pantry for infants provides formula, baby food and diapers for children from birth through age three in Palm Beach County whose families face financial hardship. Since inception, HMHB has recognized a tremendous need for infant essentials that many families simply cannot afford.
As a result, they opened Basics4Babies – an emergency pantry, which for thirty years focused on providing free diapers, wipes and basic baby needs to families residing in Palm Beach County who demonstrate need.
In 2017, the pantry expanded to include formula and baby food, adding a focused effort on infant hunger, ensuring that the tiniest residents of our county – those from birth to twelve months – have access to proper nutrition during the most critical stages of development.
Michelle Gonzalez, CEO for Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Palm Beach County, shared, “We typically average between 30-60 children served ages 0-3 each day the pantry is open. Our distribution has increased drastically (as has our inventory thanks to funding/donations) to serving an average of 110-150 children per day.”
She explained that the last five weeks they have served 1,492 children, distributed 33,275 diapers, 489 containers of formula and 90 infant food packs. HMHB partners with several organizations throughout the county as part of their work with the United Way of Palm Beach County’s Hunger Relief Committee as well as Junior League of Boca Raton and the Miami Diaper Bank.
“This has allowed us to extend our reach by promoting our pantries through others operating food distributions countywide,” Gonzalez said. “We have also waived our typical restrictions given the urgency and need for families currently struggling (pantry guidelines before COVID-19 can be found on the web page).”
The organization says that today, approximately 25 percent of pregnant women in the county receive little, late or no prenatal care. HMHB is focused on expanding the support they provide, focusing on racial disparities in birth outcomes, further identifying and addressing social determinants of health that affect health care and health behaviors.
The HMHB thanks the Junior League of Boca Raton in-kind sponsorship of diapers to the Basics4Babies pantry. Formula and baby food from Basics4Babies is made possible with funding from Admirals Cove Foundation, Ballen Isles Charities Foundation, First Presbyterian Church of North Palm Beach, The Honda Classic Cares, Ibis Charitable Foundation, Mirasol Foundation and Wycliffe Charities Foundation.
Gonzalez explains how people can help. “Our greatest need is funding to support the purchase of products for distributions,” she said. “We work with vendors to purchase discounted formula and baby food, as well as the National Diaper Bank Network where we are members and can purchase diapers at discounted rates.”
“A gift of $25 allows us to purchase one container of formula for an infant (enough for about a week). A gift of $100 affords us the opportunity to purchase approximately 650 diapers. A gift of $1,000 supports the purchase of nearly 100 infant food packs (which includes 16 oz. of rice cereal or oatmeal, 6 fruits and 6 veggies for a child ages 6-12 months).”
Gonzalez added, “Sharing our work via social media or through friends/colleagues/family is always a huge benefit.” Basics4Babies normal hours of operation in their three locations are: West Palm Beach on Monday and Wednesday from 10AM-3PM, Greenacres on Tuesday and Thursday from 10AM-3PM and also Belle Glade on Tuesday from 9AM – 4:30 PM.