Stumbling upon the statistic that one in five girls in the US miss school due to a lack of feminine supplies, St. John’s began researching the issue of “period poverty” in Teton County. After speaking with school nurses and other organizations we discovered that a lack of access to feminine supplies is an issue in our community. School nurses in this county spend one-half to two-thirds of their budget on feminine supplies.
Nationally, feminine supplies are classified as “luxury items” through SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and WIC (Women, Infants, and Children Supplemental Nutrition Program). Tampons and pads do not have a nutrition label on the packaging and are therefore classified as “non-essential.” Jackson Cupboard cannot purchase feminine supplies through the Food Bank of the Rockies and these items are taxed at grocery stores. We have initiated efforts for legislative change in Wyoming.
This spring, a partnership was born with St. John’s Hospital Foundation and the Jackson Cupboard. We believe that girls should not miss school due to a lack of feminine supplies, and have joined forces to provide feminine supplies to Colter Elementary, Jackson Hole Middle School, Jackson Hole High School and Summit Schools. Additionally, we provide supplies at Teton County Public Health and have recently expanded to Arapahoe Middle School on the Wind River Reservation. Bags of supplies are also available at our monthly Laundry Love mission. St. John’s Hospital Foundation is researching access to supplies at the medical center and rural clinics across the region. Jackson Cupboard ensures supplies are available to their customers.
Together, we formed a chapter of Period.org, the first chapter in the state of Wyoming and are looking at ways to change policy, expand access and make this issue a part of our common language. Menstrual hygiene is a basic human right. Period.