Combating Period Poverty with Red Box
Period poverty—the inability of low-income women to purchase menstrual products—is often considered an international public health issue. But the problem is also very real in the United States. Obstetrics & Gynecology featured a 2019 study of low-income women in St. Louis, Missouri, that showed two-thirds of respondents could not afford menstrual products at least once in the past year—and 20 percent reported a monthly financial challenge.
This issue also affects teens, with nearly one in five regularly missing school because of their inability to access menstrual products, according to The Always Confidence and Puberty Wave VI Survey. Activists, including New Hampshire student Caroline Dillon and Dartmouth College Associate Professor Deborah Jordan Brooks, PhD, brought the challenge to light in 2019. They successfully worked to pass legislation mandating the supply of free pads and tampons in all female and gender-neutral bathrooms within New Hampshire middle and high schools.
Support for Red Box
WHRC applies for grants to support Red Box, and private donations keep it going strong. Help support our community members during this difficult time. Our Red Box Project and Diaper Bank are in need of donations. In addition to tampons and pads, the Red Box Project welcomes reusable menstrual supplies. The Women’s Health Resource Center has menstrual cups and Thinx Period underwear that can be purchased at cost when donated to the Red Box Project. These supplies can be purchased over the phone by calling (603) 650-2600 or in person at the center. To support social distancing, we have created a wish list on Amazon. This list includes a variety of disposable and non-disposable products.
But what about school vacations and summer months, not to mention all year-long for non-students? Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s (D-H) Women’s Health Resource Center (WHRC) works to fill in those gaps. It supplies free boxes of feminine products through its menstrual product bank, Red Box.
Women can receive one free package of disposable pads, reusable pads, tampons or menstrual cups every month at WHRC, located on the mall in Lebanon at 9 Hanover Street. Recipients do not have to be D-H patients.
“We typically give out 60 packages a month, but if we are well-stocked, we can be a bit more generous,” explains Center Health Manager/Educator Krista Duval, CPSTI (child passenger safety technician instructor). “There are no income qualifications to access these products. We also sell menstrual cups and Thinx period underwear at cost, and have scholarships available.”
The Red Box initiative started in 2019 in response to D-H obstetrics provider feedback. They identified patients that were going without menstrual products and were consequently at higher risk of infection. Duval reports women accessing diapers through the Diaper Bank at WHRC were also asking about menstrual product availability, which highlighted the community need even more.
Women are often referred to WHRC by D-H providers and community agencies like Good Beginnings, a free home visitor program for new mothers. Referrals are not required, however, and the center regularly advertises the Red Box program and Diaper Bank in its community newsletter. “We have received such positive feedback about Red Box. People are very thankful it’s here,” says Duval.
Women interested in receiving menstrual products should call WHRC at (603) 650-2600 prior to visiting, to confirm office hours. Additional information may be found on the WHRC webpage, www.dartmouth-hitchcock.org/whrc or by emailing email@example.com.