East End food pantries and the Main Street Church in Patchogue were the beneficiaries of a recent drive that sought donations of menstrual hygiene products for women and girls, according to an announcement by two Suffolk County legislators, Bridget Fleming and Rob Calarco. Approximately $3,000 worth of supplies were collected and distributed to women in need.
The average menstruating American will spend at least $1,773 over her lifetime on hygiene products alone, according to the legislators' announcement. When they learned that menstrual products are not covered by government assistance programs like the Supplemental Nurtrition Assistance Program (SNAP), they decided to hold their collection drive.
“Bringing attention to the inequities exposed by this issue was a major objective of the campaign," Ms. Fleming said in a statement. "I was pleased to see the outpouring of community response to the menstrual products drive and how we are now able to supply shelters and food banks with these items. Going forward, we must look for systematic ways to provide these essential items to women and girls who find the costs challenging."
Mr. Calarco, who is presiding officer of the Suffolk County Legislature, said the collection effort was meant to help those who are already at risk of poverty and homelessness.
"The exclusion of these products from public assistance programs poses a significant challenge for those already facing food and job insecurity in the wake of Covid-19, as these items can be costly," he said. "While our efforts were successful, I believe we must work to address this shortcoming to ensure that all individuals have access to the products they need."
As their first donation drive was so successful, a second drive is planned for later in the spring, the legislators said.