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SAN DIEGO — As we move deeper into the statewide stay-at-home order, the domino effect of job loss is being felt in all areas, including organizations that help low-income mothers and families get the supplies they need to care for new babies.

“Basically it’s the basic needs: we need jars of food, food jars that haven’t been opened,” said Jeanne Hansen, the director of Birthline of San Diego.

The need is great during normal times, but now Birthline and other social service organizations are overwhelmed with new requests as people are laid off and as some new mothers are giving up breast feeding, citing fears of infecting their children. These factors are resulting in a critical shortage of baby formula.

“What we need is formula. Wipes, bath wipes. Some homeless moms have no way to wash their babies,” Hansen said.

Birthline typically distributes food, formula, diapers and clothes — everything a pregnant mom or new mom would need — from two locations. However, Birthline recently had to close its Chula Vista operation indefinitely due to a lack of volunteers, so all items are currently being distributed from its Clairemont location.

“It’s really hard to find stuff in stores right now,” said mother Olivia Ngyun. “I have a baby at home. I’m really nervous to take him outside right now.”

Ngyun recently visited Birthline in Clairemont for the first time to shop for her newborn son. For now, its hours are significantly reduced to just Mondays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m.. While visitors could previously shop inside, social distancing now requires all customers to remain outside in the courtyard.

“We’re observing social distancing and we are trying to get them to do the same,” Hansen said. “We provide hand-washing when they come and when they leave.”

As one of the only operations still running, Birthline is getting a lot of new clients from hospital referrals and the county’s 211 resource hotline. Birthline said it is looking for volunteers through the website Organizers say they will stay open as long as possible.

“We have babies coming from the hospital with nothing but a blanket from the hospital, so they have a shirt, diaper and blanket and that’s it,” Hansen said.

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