SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Schenectady Menstrual Health Coalition (SMHC) have completed the period pantry as of November 9. The period pantry provides individuals with 24/7 access to period products.
SMHC explains the idea for the period pantry came from a woman in Ohio who runs “Free Flo Box,” and was a recipient of a “Pads Across America” grant from the Pad Project organization, as is SMHC. Representatives Claire Jennings and Brynn Watkins reached out to the woman, met with her, and were able to gain several tips for establishing and maintaining a period pantry. Brown paper bags are also included for individuals to carry the products. SMHC also noted menstrual cups and period underwear will be available in the future. “Period Poverty is a problem everywhere in the world. Since we found out that in our community there was nothing like this, we decided to start it here. Because that’s how big things happen,” said Jennings.
The period pantry is made of a newspaper vending machine that is now refurbished and painted pink. The pantry includes products such as,
- Regular pads
- Ultra-thin pads
- Pantry liners
- Overnight maxi pads
- Regular tampons
- Super tampons
- Super plus tampons
Brown paper bags are also included for individuals to carry the products. SMHC also noted menstrual cups and period underwear will be available in the future. “You know, WIC benefits, SNAP benefits do not cover menstrual hygiene products and that is something we believe should be changed. Let alone, should be free for everyone,” Watkins told News10’s Anya Tucker.
The period pantry is located at Bethesda House on State Street in Schenectady. SMHC reached out to organizations that they already partnered with for other public health work with Bethesda House agreeing to have the box on their property. Jennings states, “We are planning on implementing more around the area after we gauge the use of this initial box and see how much product the box requires on a weekly basis.”
Future goals for SMHC include educational programming, set to begin in January 2023, workshops at Girls Inc. and Schenectady City School District to promote menstrual equity and fight the stigma against periods. Jennings comments “Period poverty impacts menstruators everywhere. The need is constant, and we want to make a difference in our community. We believe everyone should have access to period care!” If you’re looking to donate, visit the SMHC link here, their PayPal is located on the page.