The Community FoodBank of New Jersey is excited to announce the launch of its new Period Initiative, in partnership with the National Diaper Bank Network! The project aims to distribute feminine hygiene products, or period supplies, to assist low-income, homeless, and sheltered women and girls of childbearing age affected by menstrual inequity. In the past year alone, one in four American women has struggled to purchase period products due to lack of income. During its inaugural year, the FoodBank’s Period Initiative will strive to provide free period supplies to sustain at least 1,000 poor and low-income girls and women in Essex, Somerset, Union, and Hudson counties.
The project will kick off at ten of the FoodBank’s partner agencies and two middle schools, with hopes to expand in the future to assist the many thousands of girls and women in New Jersey without regular access to period supplies.
“More than forty years of anti-poverty work has taught us a great deal about period poverty and how it affects the health and productivity of low-income women and girls,” says Carlos Rodriguez, President & CEO of the Community FoodBank of New Jersey. “All women confront anxiety and stigma related to periods on some level, but those with the fewest resources are most vulnerable to period poverty. These women may face disruptions to their education, jobs, job searches, and other top priorities.”
In fact, 1 In 5 low income women have reported missing work, school, or similar events due to lack of access to period supplies. These essential products—often deemed luxury items—are excluded from all state and federal assistance programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly food stamps.
While the FoodBank has historically made period supplies available to clients, thanks to informal donations, the launch of this new Initiative formalizes the organization’s commitment to promoting menstrual equity. The FoodBank will leverage its membership in the National Diaper Bank Network and the Network’s new Alliance for Period Supplies, which will allow for the purchase of low-cost, bulk period supplies.