Free feminine hygiene products to be provided at various Columbus centers

COLUMBUS (WCMH) —Community recreation centers and homeless shelters across Columbus will soon be stocked with feminine hygiene products as part of an initiative from Columbus City Council and the Recreation and Parks Department.

“Is there any restroom outside your own home where you are expected to bring your own roll of toilet paper?” said Columbus City Council member Elizabeth Brown. “Yet there is a nearly ubiquitous expectation for women to supply their own tampons and pads.”
Brown said that more than 85 percent of women have started their periods out in public without the necessary supplies.

Brown said there’s already a pilot program underway for free tampons in city recreation centers. Currently, four centers have the products: Douglas, Driving Park, Glenwood and Linden.

The Community Shelter Board said LOLA, a feminine care product company, has donated more than 100,000 tampons to low-income and homeless women nationally. The company is planning to donate 60,000 tampons to Columbus this year.

Councilmember Brown said the initial purchase for the pilot program cost just over $1,000.

For Tasha Reeder, who has spent the last six weeks at the Van Buren Center, a homeless shelter on the west side of Columbus, the program will be a relief.

“I get emotional sometimes, because I feel like I should have the money to be able to take care, to get my feminine stuff and my personals, but being in a situation like this, it’s not always possible,” Reeder said.

During a press conference held Wednesday at the Van Buren Center, Nancy Kramer of Free the tampons, a Columbus nonprofit, urged people to remember that periods are bodily functions and not something over which women have control.

“Menstruation is not a choice,” Kramer said. “This is something that a woman’s body does whether we want it to or not.”

Council member Brown called it a “common sense issue.”

“Seven to ten dollars for a homeless woman, low-income women, is more than the day’s budget for food,” Brown said.

The city estimates it will cost $3,000 to $5,000 annually to stock all 29 recreation centers citywide.

The initiative is a relief for Tasha Reeder, who has other things to worry about other than supplies for her period.

“It’s not nothing easy to go through, but you just have to have your mind set to what you want and your goals and come into the shelter and do what you’re supposed to do so you can get out faster,” Reeder said.

Reeder said she and her mother, who’s in the shelter with her, have found a place to stay and will be moving there soon.

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