When people decide to donate to those less fortunate than themselves, items like food, money and clothing often come to mind. But there is another area of need that many people don’t think about or discuss: feminine hygiene products.
The food stamp program, SNAP, doesn’t cover feminine hygiene products and many women go without them, including some associates of the New Community Supportive Assistance to Individuals and Families Program (SAIF).
SAIF hosted the National Council of Jewish Women, Essex County Section (NCJW/Essex) Period.Project July 18. SAIF associates helped four members of the Period.Project fill bags with feminine hygiene products to hand out to women and also shared their struggles with obtaining the products.
SAIF Intensive Case Manager Alicia Adams said NCJW/Essex reached out to SAIF with the opportunity to host the event.
“We thought it was a great idea,” she said. “It is a big issue our clients are having.”
The Period.Project was formed in November 2016 to raise awareness about the problems caused by women and girls not having adequate access to feminine hygiene products. Females will miss work or school because they lack products. Some women are forced to choose between diapers, food and feminine hygiene products.
Period.Project Co-Chair Laurie Kahn said the more people that talk about the issue, the better. “We feel so passionate about it,” she said. “Let’s give women dignity. Men shave every day. Women should have pads and tampons.”
About 10 women participated in the event. Each received products to take home and filled bags to be distributed to other SAIF associates with products that Period.Project members provided.
Adams said SAIF welcomes donations of feminine hygiene products. When she inquired about getting supplies from companies that produce the items, she found that they typically donate to larger organizations.
SAIF Associate Latisha Holt decided to participate in the event because she sometimes finds herself without feminine hygiene products.
“It is a struggle for me to keep up with cosmetics and items like tampons and pads,” she said. “I borrow until I run across extra currency.”
Holt also said she has used towels in place of feminine hygiene products and made her own tampon at one point.
Ayesha Campbell was one of the participants and hopes more people become aware of the issue. “If people in the community can help each other, they should,” she said.
Period.Project Co-Chair Karen Feinblatt said the goal was to make the event fun and educational. The committee provided snacks and drinks to the women and they spoke informally while they filled bags with the products.
Another important part of the day was documenting women’s experiences. Feinblatt said statistics aren’t available for how many women struggle to obtain these supplies. Volunteer SAIF associates went on camera for the Period.Project to share their stories about how lacking feminine hygiene products impacted their lives.
“My hope is to go to Trenton and show these videos and others like them to the Children and Families committees. This is a desperate need,” Feinblatt said. “We want them to add money to every agency’s budget strictly for feminine hygiene products.”
Feinblatt said the larger goal is to take the project to the national level and have SNAP cover feminine hygiene products.
“It’s not a luxury,” she said.