WARREN TOWNSHIP — About a decade ago, Bridget Cutler read an article about a New Jersey mother who couldn't afford to feed her baby, and was considering putting the child up for adoption.

Realizing such a problem had to be more widespread than that, Cutler took stock of the supplies she had on hand for her own baby, and decided to offer any extras up to her Hoboken neighborhood.

The system of distribution she arranged, for diapers and other items, blossomed into the Moms Helping Moms Foundation, now headquartered in a 3,000-square foot warehouse in Warren Township, Somerset County.

In the past year, the nonprofit organization has expanded to serve all 21 New Jersey counties, capable of delivering 600,000 diapers in a year.

And while that's unquestionably helpful, it's not necessarily a positive development, according to deputy director Judi Meighan. She said the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic caused the number of individuals seeking assistance from Moms Helping Moms to double in the last 12 months, to more than 100,000 in 2020.

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However, the number of community partners that work alongside the nonprofit also increased last year, by about 20, to more than 70 different organizations.

Some are food banks that place large, monthly orders for diapers; others include local social service agencies or church ministries.

"Some other smaller agencies, it's a little more personalized, and we can tailor a package together for the family, with diapers and other things like bibs and clothing," Meighan said, also mentioning other in-demand items such as diaper bags, strollers, and toys.

While diapers are known to be a significant cost to families, Meighan said New Jerseyans might be surprised to learn that 1 out of every 3 of those families can't afford that monthly expense, which is not covered by SNAP or similar government programs.

So those families go to their community groups, which then contact Moms Helping Moms, which places the orders and schedules distribution.

Donations, both material and monetary, are accepted at the Warren warehouse on Mondays and Wednesdays, according to Meighan, and those contributions were a way to keep the group vibrant when fundraising events were canceled throughout 2020.

And, Meighan made the point that opened packages of extra, unused diapers can be given away as well.

In addition to baby supplies, Moms Helping Moms is now also focusing on living up to its name by directly providing hygienic items to women.

"One in four women report missing work or school, maybe three days a month, because they don't have products that they need for their monthly period," Meighan said.

The organization is in dialogue with state legislators on how to reach even more families across the Garden State.

If you or someone you know is in need of assistance, contact info@momshelpingmomsfoundation.org or 908-205-8017.

Patrick Lavery is New Jersey 101.5's afternoon news anchor. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com.

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