Imagine having to make the difficult choice between buying food or menstrual hygiene products.
For many people, it’s an unfortunate reality.
Tanya Faulkner, Labour Program and Services Co-ordinator with United Way Niagara, says that tampons and pads are rarely donated to food banks and shelters — and can be an expensive luxury for people living in poverty.
“I know a girl who missed a week of school every month. Her family could only spare enough money to buy menstrual hygiene products for her mother so she could go to work and earn an income,” she says.
“In other situations, people who are underemployed, unemployed or homeless may choose to eat a meal instead of purchasing health products.”
Beginning this week, Brock University’s United Way committee is organizing a menstrual hygiene product drive as part of a larger local Tampon Tuesday initiative. Community members are being asked to take the #oneboxchallenge and donate an unopened box to support local people in need.
Tampons, pads or other menstrual hygiene products will be collected until Friday, March 1 at several locations on campus (listed below).
The boxes will be brought to one of three Tampon Tuesday events taking place across Niagara on Tuesday, March 5 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. in celebration of International Women’s Day.
Last year’s Tampon Tuesday event collected nearly 2,300 boxes, but Faulkner says that the need is always greater than what is provided. With the additional help of large organizations like Brock University on board this year, she’s hoping to collect closer to 6,000 boxes.
“We’re grateful that Brock is involved. The collective effort of students, staff and faculty can make a huge impact in our local community,” she says.
In addition to contributing to this year’s initiative, members of the Brock community will also benefit from its success. The Brock University Students’ Union Food First program is one of 15 local recipients of this year’s drive.
“The Food First program has seen an exponential increase in demand over the past couple of years,” says Joyce Khouzam, Vice-President, Student Services for Brock University Students’ Union. “Surprisingly, we’ve seen the most usage from graduate students, even though the program is an undergraduate program.”
Khouzam says that about 1,500 Food First packages have been given away since September 2018, each including seven grocery items and two hygiene products of the students’ choices. Students can access the program up to three times per semester.
Normally, if a student needed menstrual hygiene products, a box would be counted as one of their two allocated hygiene products.
“With the donations from Tampon Tuesday, we can offer pads or tampons in addition to the nine items in the package,” says Khouzam. “Students won’t have to make the choice between toilet paper or tampons.”
Other Tampon Tuesday recipients include Community Care of St. Catharines and Thorold, Community Care of West Niagara, Community Living Port Colborne-Wainfleet, Fort Erie Multicultural Centre, GBF Community Services, The Hope Centre, Pelham Cares, Port Cares, Project SHARE, The RAFT, Westview Centre4Women and YWCA Niagara.
Tampon Tuesday began as a grassroots effort more than decade ago. An individual working with Bell Media in London, Ont., identified the community need and began organizing monthly events with guest speakers from local agencies. It wasn’t long until United Way Centraide Canada got on board and helped spread awareness across the country. This is the third year United Way Niagara is involved in the initiative.
What: Tampon Tuesday — Menstrual hygiene products collection drive
When: Monday, Feb. 11 to Friday, March 1
Where: Several locations on Brock University’s campus:
- Brock Campus Store
- Brock Card office
- Brock Central at the Registrar’s Office
- Computer Commons
- DeCew Dining Hall
- General Brock Store
- Library Ask Us desk
- Lowenberger Dining Hall
- Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts security office
- Nursing department in East Academic building 3
- Student Life Involvement Commons
- Walker equipment room (Cage)
- Walker welcome desk
For more information, contact Brock University’s Tampon Tuesday lead organizer Beth Natale, Director, Recruitment and Retention, at x3564 or firstname.lastname@example.org