This year, 2024, we officially launched our Blossom Program to provide no-cost feminine hygiene products to women and diapers to children all experiencing homelessness or low-income disparity. The decision to launch this program was based on the needs of our clients and the community.
Every year, the number of families in the USA needing assistance from food pantries continues to grow. The lack of access to menstrual health products for people who are either homeless or low-income is appalling. SNAP or any other welfare program does not cover these necessary products. This leaves countless people without the products many take for granted each month.
When women and girls lack access to adequate menstrual products, they may improvise supplies or use their period products for longer than recommended. The American Medical Association describes the risk of such practices as potentially leading to vaginal and urinary tract infections, severe reproductive health conditions, and toxic shock syndrome. A study of individuals experiencing homelessness reported women creating makeshift menstrual products using old clothing or forgoing food or medication to afford period supplies.
The cost of menstrual supplies can be a barrier to access for many women and girls. Period poverty can impact participation in school or force women to choose between menstrual products and necessities. A survey of low-income women found that 64% had experienced difficulty affording menstrual products, and 46% struggled to buy both food and menstrual products over the previous 12 months. Another study found that 64% of female high school students reported not being able to afford period products when needed at least once in the school year, and 34% reported missing school due to a lack of menstrual supplies.
Currently, we are providing for over 1,100 women and 300 children. At an average cost of $10 ($11,000) per month per female and $42.50 per month per child ($12,750), our current expenses are $23,750 monthly. To offset these costs, we will continue working strategically with our donors, writing for additional funding, partnering with community partners, and developing working relationships with large distributors.
In the past, our feminine hygiene products and diapers have been obtained through in-kind donations, but it isn’t enough to meet the needs. Blossom could thrive and carry momentum for growth, allowing us to continue the movement and secure additional partners and funding moving forward. We will know we are successful when we say, “Yes, we have the hygiene supplies you need.” And that each morning, when filling our shelves and fridges, we also fill shelves with diapers and feminine products.