Nearly 80% of what influences a person’s health relates to nonmedical issues, such as food, housing, transportation, and the financial means to pay for basic daily needs.1 Current economic conditions are affecting the capacity for individuals and families to access basic needs, which impacts health behaviors and can exacerbate existing health disparities.
In response, UnitedHealthcare hosted a Family Fun Day for the public at the Children’s Museum of Memphis to offer support and resources to community members. The event included community partners Sweet Cheeks Diaper Ministry, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing diapers to families in need, and Mid-South Food Bank, which distributes an average of 4 million meals a month through a network of 300 partner agencies. Attendees received free entrance to the museum along with free basic-need resources, including diapers, healthy snack bags, hygiene kits, COVID and flu vaccines, and health care coverage information.
Dr. Health E. Hound rides the carousel at the Children’s Museum of Memphis on March 4, 2023.
Impacts of food and diaper insecurity
In addition to distributing resources, the event drew attention to the high level of need for food, diapers and other resources in the Memphis community and how social and economic factors significantly influence health and well-being. Food insecurity, which is a lack of consistent access to enough food for every person in a household to live an active, healthy life2, is associated with numerous adverse social and health outcomes and is increasingly considered a critical public health issue. According to Feeding America, 1 in 8 people face hunger in Tennessee, and 1 in 6 children in the state face hunger.3 Data from the Map the Meal Gap study indicates that people facing hunger in Tennessee are estimated to report needing more than $486 million more per year to meet their food needs.4
Cost is a barrier to adequate diaper supply. An adequate supply of diapers for one child costs an average of $23 per week or $1,196 per year.5 For a single parent working full time at the federal minimum wage, nearly 8% of their gross income can be spent on diapers.5 Studies have shown that 1 in 3 Tennessee families struggle with diaper insecurity, and diapers are currently not a covered benefit under Medicaid, WIC, SNAP or other assistance programs.6
The lack of the financial means to purchase diapers can result in children being unable to attend childcare centers or preschools. This leads to caregivers missing work, possible unemployment, loss of income and increased stress. It can also cause caretakers to reuse diapers, which can result in skin and urinary tract infections. Often caretakers will forgo their own basic needs, like adequate food, to pay for diapers.
Supporting whole-person health
Family Fun Day hosted close to 1,500 adults and children at the museum. During the event, Sweet Cheeks Diaper Ministry distributed 15,000 diapers and Mid-South Food Bank distributed 300 snack bags and 180 hygiene kits. Other distributed resources included 400 Medicaid redetermination information flyers.
UnitedHealthcare remains committed to solving the hardest problems facing Tennessee communities by taking a unified approach to change. This includes investing in relationships, establishing long-term commitments and partnering at the community level, helping people live healthier lives and making the health care system work better for everyone.
- https://www.countyhealthrankings.org/explore-health-rankings/county-health-rankings-model/health-factors Opens in a new window
- https://www.feedingamerica.org/hunger-in-america/food-insecurity Opens in a new window
- https://www.feedingamerica.org/hunger-in-america/tennessee Opens in a new window
- https://map.feedingamerica.org/county/2018/overall/tennessee Opens in a new window
- https://www.acf.hhs.gov/blog/2022/09/launching-first-federal-diaper-assistance-pilot#:~:text=An%20adequate%20supply%20of%20diapers,percent%20of%20their%20gross%20income Opens in a new window
- https://nationaldiaperbanknetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/Tennessee.pdf Opens in a new window