County installs free menstrual product dispensers at 23 locations

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San Diego County has installed 57 menstrual product dispensers at 23 county facilities, including libraries and community centers, as part of a pilot program to support greater access to menstrual products. (County of San Diego)

SAN DIEGO — Free menstrual products are now available at 23 county facilities across the region.

San Diego County installed 57 dispensers at 23 facilities, including libraries and community centers, as part of a pilot program to support greater access to menstrual products. The new Free 4 Menstrual Equity program, or Free4ME, intends to address period poverty, or a person’s inability to access or pay for menstrual products.

In announcing the new initiative, the county pointed to studies that show nearly two-thirds of low-income people with periods in the U.S. were unable to afford menstruation products during the previous year. They often have to decide between buying food and necessities or menstrual hygiene products.

The issue disproportionately affects school-aged individuals, according to the county, with another recent study showing one in five youths have missed school because they didn’t have access to tampons or pads during their period. Food stamps don’t cover menstrual products, making them even more out of reach for lower-income families.

The county said the Free4ME initiative was started by local community leaders including Youth Will and Planned Parenthood. The long-term goal is to install free menstrual product dispensers in all public-facing county facilities.

Learn more about the county’s efforts to address menstrual inequality and the locations of the new dispensers on the Free4ME website.

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