Students from Meredith College’s Pre-Health Post-Baccalaureate Certificate Program conducted a service project, titled Healthy Girl, Healthy World, to assist middle school girls with access to feminine hygiene products and other toiletry items.
“Since items like tampons, pads, toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, etc. are not eligible for purchase by Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs (SNAP), or what most people call food stamps, we thought we could launch a drive to help collect those types of products,” said Matt Manley, project coordinator.
More than 300 students from across campus donated feminine hygiene products and toiletry items. In total, Meredith College donated more than 1,900 items to support adolescent girls through Dillard Drive Middle School’s 4H pantry.
“Our purpose for obtaining feminine hygiene products was specifically to benefit young girls who are on the free and reduced lunch programs in order to ease the burden of worrying about whether or not they can afford menstrual products,” said Diana Nguyen. “Our specific mission was that every woman should have the ability to maintain her dignity while being able to focus on schoolwork rather than staying out of school during that time of the month, or worrying about how they'll pay for their feminine products.”
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, more than half of North Carolina students qualify for free and reduced lunch programs. In Wake County, 35 percent of the students qualify for subsidized meals, according to the Wake County Public School System.
Dillard Drive Middle School was selected after several of the pre-health students volunteered with Generosity Feeds, which directly helps children in Wake County who are on the free or reduced lunch programs at school.
“We networked with the social worker and vice principal to see if there was any other way that we could help the students in a health-related capacity,” said Manley. “They told us that many young girls need hygiene products, and can miss school if they are unable to address their needs.”
According to Conscious Period, 26.4 million people in the United States can’t afford menstrual products. Women have reported giving up their food stamps in order to be able to purchase feminine hygiene products.
“We are strongly encouraged to conduct a service project,” said Manley. “Since this need aligned with our planned service project, Meredith College’s focus on female education, and our desire to enable healthy living, we felt this project was a win-win for everyone involved.”