GVSU Public Health Society wraps up menstrual hygiene product drive

GVL / Emily Frye

GVL / Emily Frye

Megan Webster

Statistically speaking, women spend an average of $7 a month on menstrual hygiene products. Over a span of 40 years, the average American woman will spend approximately $3,400 on these products. For the 260,000 women in Michigan living below the poverty line, according to talkpoverty.org, spending that much money on products for their period is not possible.

The Public Health Society (PHS) at Grand Valley State University is doing something to give back to the women in Grand Rapids in the form of menstrual hygiene products. Given that Monday, April 3, through Sunday, April 9, was National Public Health Week, PHS put on this product drive all throughout campus to support The Grand Rapids Red Project, a resource for Grand Rapids citizens to explore better health options by providing tools, information and support to live a healthful lifestyle.

Samantha Radecki, the volunteer coordinator on the PHS e-board, said this drive raised awareness on a very important topic of public health that typically isn’t talked about. By organizing a menstrual hygiene product drive, PHS has been gathering supplies for women who are not able to purchase the products on their own.

“Menstrual hygiene is such an important part of public health, not even just public health but overall health in general, when thinking about things that are accessible,” Radecki said. “How do women who are on a tight budget, maybe living in poverty, maybe homeless, maybe are unable to get real health services, how can they afford tampons and pads, the simple things? That’s something we want to answer and want to shed more light on.”

All of the supplies collected will be gathered and taken to The Red Project and the Grand Rapids Pride Center (GRPC) in order to service disadvantaged women who are looking for health and hygiene services in the Grand Rapids area.

“This is an area that doesn’t get a lot of attention,” Radecki said. “A lot of times we do food drives or clothing drives. How often do you hear of menstrual hygiene getting any attention?”

Throughout the drive, there have been donation boxes all over the Allendale and Pew campuses. The locations include, but are not limited to, the Kirkhof Center, Mackinac Hall, Manitou Hall, the Steelcase Library, the Seidman Center and the DeVos Center. Donations can also be dropped off at The Red Project or the GRPC. The drive has been accepting tampons, pads, panty liners, menstrual cups and other feminine hygiene products and will be concluding Monday, April 10.

Camille Hoorn, an AmeriCorps member at The Red Project, said access to menstrual hygiene products isn’t a luxury but a necessity and a right for every woman, no matter what their financial status may be.

“The hygiene drive benefits the community because feminine hygiene products are a human right,” Hoorn said. “It’s important that all women have access to them whenever they should need them”

Although this is the first time the PHS has put on a drive of this nature, Radecki said they have received strong support in gathering supplies. For example, Campus Recreation donated four large boxes of panty liners, resulting in more than 1,000 individual packs. 

Radecki hopes future PHS e-boards will repeat this type of donation drive for National Public Health Week in order to give women all across Grand Rapids access to feminine hygiene products.

“I think it’s definitely something that could be done again,” Radecki said. “We’ve gotten a lot of support, and this is something that our group will urge the next group of students to do.”