/‘Not just a ‘woman’s problem’ Organizations call attention to scarcity of feminine hygiene, baby products

‘Not just a ‘woman’s problem’ Organizations call attention to scarcity of feminine hygiene, baby products

Nonprofit Mississippi News CLARKSDALE — Chelesa Presley, a volunteer and double the number of infant diapers and menstrual products she had on hand packed brown paper bags with plastic wrap and plastic wrap for distribution across Mississippi. These items are in high demand, particularly for communities like the Mississippi Delta, where many schools have closed and jobs have been lost. Presley, the executive director of the Diaper Bank of the Delta, stated that the supply is decreasing. The Diaper Bank is a non-profit that addresses diaper needs, period needs, and child poverty in North Mississippi. It has more than 50,000 items, including tampons and pads, baby wipes and liners. According to U.S. Census data, nearly 20% of Mississippi’s population lives in poverty. The organization is an essential service. Coronavirus is a new issue that is affecting women who are already struggling to make ends work. Since the state is under shelter-in-place orders until April 20, Presley doesn’t know how long this supply will last. It would last us six months, if we had our usual demand. Presley stated that last year, we served more than 300 families. Each family had an average of two children (30 diapers). That’s quite a number of diapers. “They are calling saying that the casinos are closed. We don’t have the money. These items aren’t covered by WIC or food stamps. Advocates for women and children say that the shortage of hygiene products for low income women and their children is what’s missing from the larger conversation. The United States has half of its population made up of women. A survey found that nearly two-thirds (or three-quarters) of low-income women couldn’t afford feminine hygiene products such as tampons and pads. This is a sign of “period poverty”, or insufficient access to menstrual hygiene products and education due to a lack of income or access. Advocates say menstrual health should not be considered a problem of women only. Researchers also cited the consequences on employment, finances and self-esteem. St. Louis University researchers recently found that 36 percent of women missed work because they didn’t have enough period hygiene supplies. The study also revealed that 21 percent of 200 women with low income couldn’t afford feminine hygiene products on an annual basis. Nearly half of the women surveyed had to decide between purchasing food and period-related products. This is the reality of a state where poverty is “very real”, said Laurie Bertram Roberts. She co-founded the Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund. A Jackson-based nonprofit that offers financial and logistical access to abortions and advocates reproductive justice. You don’t want anyone using tampons for too long. It’s not a good idea for people to take apart pads and make their own. It’s unsanitary. It’s not healthy. Bertram Roberts, a reproductive health professional, saw the need to provide low-income families with services in the Jackson region. In 2018, the organization opened a diaper storage unit and a period supply room a year later. These closets contain baby wipes and adult diapers as well as baby wipes, diapers for babies, diapers for adults, diaper pads, tampons, and many other items. Mississippi is not the only state experiencing shortages of feminine hygiene products. Others have increased their supply by three times. According to The New York Times, I Support Girls, an international non-profit that collects feminine hygiene products and bras for shelters and prisons, gave away 900,000. This is a significant increase from the under 200,000 donated last year. NJ.com reported that Moms Helping Moms Foundation in New Jersey distributed more than 9,000 diapers per week than the normal 4,000. Similar to the Diaper Bank’s staff, Bertram Roberts only has 10 families to serve. She said that organizing around the issue is a priority to reach more people. “I have seen pushes to feed everyone, but I have not seen conversations about toiletries except when it comes to those who are houseless… but that doesn’t mean everyone needs them are houseless.”