San Diego County is expanding its free menstrual product program due to the high demand for free tampons and patches.
Since launching Free 4 Menstrual Equity, or Free4ME, last May, the county has provided more than 141,000 tampons and patches through menstrual distributors based in 24 county property throughout the San Diego area.
After completing the one-year pilot program, the county is now preparing to deploy distributors to additional county locations.
Food stamps and the WIC do not cover the market for menstrual products, forcing many people to consume hygiene products by using them for a long time or by using unhealthy items to manage their period. Using menstrual products beyond the recommended time is dangerous and can cause toxic shock syndrome, a type of bacterial infection.
“The Free4ME pilot program has shown that there is a critical need for free menstrual hygiene products and we are excited to continue to extend this program to all of the county’s facilities,” said Kelly Motadel, MD, MPH, the county Child Health Officer. “No one who needs these products should be left without them or at risk of becoming infected because they use the products more than recommended.”
The inability of a person to access or pay for menstrual products – referred to as period poverty – disproportionately affects school-age individuals. A recent study showed that one in four students in the US find it difficult to buy seasonal products.
The Free4ME initiative was launched by local community leaders Youth Will and planned parenting. Both organizations made a critical contribution to the development and implementation of the program.
The county salesman for menstrual distributors, Aunt Flow, is a leader in the menstrual equality movement. The company has distributors with 100% organic cotton products, which contributes to the county’s commitment to sustainability.
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