MassBay Community College and Framingham, MA-based non-profit organization Dignity Matters are celebrating a two-year partnership of providing free period products to students who are fighting “period poverty” or the inability to pay for period supplies. This initiative was based on the growing trend of disadvantaged or homeless young women and girls who struggle to purchase period products at some point in their lives while also dealing with financial stresses. According to a study by Kotex, more than two of five people who have periods have struggled to purchase feminine hygiene products, and between 2018 and 2021, that number increased by 35%.
“The cost of period products is often a hidden burden,” said Elizabeth Blumberg, Psy.D., MassBay Vice President for Student Development and Dean of Students. “We are so grateful to Dignity Matters, providing assistance to MassBay students who struggle with the financial cost of these vital health care products. Over the past few years, we have heard directly from students how this program is truly making a difference in their lives.”
Since September 2021, MassBay has partnered with Dignity Matters who collects, purchases, and supplies feminine hygiene products, bras, and underwear to women and girls who are homeless or disadvantaged, in order to help them stay healthy, regain self-confidence, and live with basic dignity. Through the partnership, Dignity Matters provides a monthly supply of tampons and pads for approximately 155 students, which is distributed in bathrooms throughout the three campuses of Ashland, Framingham, and Wellesley Hills. To date 28,344 pads, 36,850 tampons, 7,640 liners, and additional toiletries have been provided to MassBay students, with the products valued at more than $18,000.
“Lack of access to menstrual care is a deal breaker for women – without these items they can’t attend class, go to work, or take care of their families during their period,” said Founder and Executive Director of Dignity Matters, Kate Sanetra-Butler. “Many of these students have overcome incredible barriers to get to college, and we won’t let period poverty be the one that holds them back.”
One student reported the following about the partnership with Dignity Matters, “Every expense is significant when you are in school, and every penny must be stretched. Not having to worry about paying for period products is a relief. I don’t have to worry about running out of what I need when I need to focus on my classes and clinical.”
This partnership is led by MassBay’s Student Nourishment And Care Committee (SNACC), which is a group of staff, faculty, students, and community volunteers who are dedicated to eliminating basic need barriers that are obstacles to student success.