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Pantry provides for poor

Feminine products provided to those who are struggling

YOUNGSTOWN — Several city councilwomen and the Youngstown City Health District came together Thursday for a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the health district’s women’s pantry.

The pantry addresses period poverty for the estimated 40 percent of adult women who live in poverty in Youngstown. According to statistics, women in Youngstown are 13 percent more likely than men to experience poverty.

Period poverty is a term that refers to the lack of access to menstrual products, feminine hygiene products, feminine hygiene care, waste management and education.

“Those who struggle to obtain feminine products will have to resort to unhygienic and even life-threatening solutions to take care of themselves,” Youngstown Councilwoman Lauren McNally, D-5th Ward, said. “Women should not have to come to this point and worry about affording these things.”

On average, monthly periods can last up to five days, and in cases of an irregular cycle, periods can last up to nine days. The menstrual products women need can cost upwards of $15 to $20 per month, not including the cost of other feminine products that are needed monthly.

According to a Medical Journal report cited by McNally, nearly 64 percent of women reported having difficulty affording menstrual products at some point, with 21 percent having trouble affording them monthly.

Menstrual products are not covered by the WIC program or by SNAP benefits.

Golie Stennis, director of minority health for the city health department, said approximately 37 people have come to use the pantry already, ranging in age from teens to older women.

“This is a blessing we need. This is helping them stretch their money a little bit more, and we’re making a difference. It’s a small one, but we’re doing it,” Stennis said.

While the pantry will not solve the issue of period poverty all together in Youngstown, the women pledging their support of the project hope it will ease some of the burden.

Looking toward the future, Youngstown Councilwoman Anita Davis, D-6th Ward, cited the example of Scotland — a country that became the first to make feminine products free — as a model Youngstown hopes to emulate some day.

Davis announced plans to expand the program in the future to include a mobile program, which would allow for them to park the van in public spaces to distribute feminine hygiene products directly to women in the community.

Women can come once a month to 9 W. Front St. to fill out a form to receive the supplies they need.

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