Phoenix Nonprofit Donates Feminine Hygiene Products, Challenges Period Stigmas

Published: Saturday, August 4, 2018 - 2:42pm
Updated: Tuesday, August 7, 2018 - 12:36pm
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Bridget Dowd/KJZZ
ICM Food and Clothing Bank in Phoenix provides low income families with meals, toiletries, school supplies and other items.

While some may not give a second thought to purchasing toiletries and hygiene products as part of their routine shopping habits, not everyone can afford those basic necessities. One Phoenix nonprofit is making feminine hygiene products more accessible to low-income populations.

Go With The Flow is an organization that was created last year when its founder, Demetra Presley, saw an unmet need in the community. She said schools in her area were unable to provide their female students with hygiene products.

“The students are either missing school because it’s easier for them to stay at home and not have to worry about staining their clothes, or they’re making their own products out of, like, toilet paper, socks, tissue paper — that type of thing — very unhygienic items, or they’re extending the shelf life of the items that they do have,” Presley said.

Presley said by doing so, those students increase their risk of getting toxic shock syndrome and other pelvic infections. Her organization now donates “period packs” to schools for students to use.

“(Period packs) are basically small bags that have pads and tampons and panty liners in them,” Presley said. “We give them to the schools for free so that way they can give them to the students whenever a student starts their period or comes to school on their period and doesn’t have access to the items that they need.”

The group visited ICM Food and Clothing Bank in Phoenix on Saturday. The facility provides low-income families with meals, toiletries, school supplies and other items.

Abby Loza is the director of volunteers and programs for ICM. She said feminine hygiene products are one of the most requested items from people who access their services.

“They’re expensive,” Loza said. “ When you go to the store, they’re pricey and you really can’t go without them, so that’s why we try to break them down. That way we can try to meet everybody’s need that came through that day.”

Loza said donated products like shampoo get divided up into smaller portions, so they can help more families at once. She said out of the six days a week that the facility is open, they probably have feminine hygiene products available for two.

“I always try to tell people, they’re like, ‘I only have one bottle of shampoo.’ That’s six families, so bring it,” Loza said.

Presley said she hopes her organization and others like it can begin to erase the social stigma around periods and menstrual hygiene.

“We should not have people not being able to afford pads and tampons when half of the population gets their period,” Presley said. “Go With The Flow really works at not only providing access to products, but trying to change the narrative around periods and what we think about them and how we talk about them.”

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