Austin Diaper Bank launched a new initiative Friday to supply feminine hygiene products to any girl who needs them at Lanier High School and Burnet Middle School. The program called Bright Spot is in response to statistics from a study by the Always brand that found that 1 in 5 girls in the U.S. miss school because of a lack of tampons or pads.
Previously, teachers at the school were using their own money to supply girls with the products. Austin Diaper Bank expects to serve 300 students each month at Lanier and 100 at Burnet. Girls will be provided supplies for the day or for longer as well as asked if they have another family member who might need them.
“We are very grateful for the support Lanier High School is receiving from the Austin Diaper Bank,” said Principal Ryan Hopkins in a press release. “Period supplies are school supplies — they enable students to attend school and concentrate on learning without worrying about their personal hygiene.”
Since last year, Austin Diaper Bank also has been supplying period products to the 35 community partners who receive its diapers.
People can donate feminine hygiene products to Austin Diaper Bank drop off locations as well as make monetary donations at www.austindiapers.org. $25 will supply products to five people.
Like diapers, feminine hygiene products are taxable products and also not something people can use federal assistance for such as the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) or Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program.
Kotex brand did a 2018 study of women and found that 20 percent of the respondents and 27 percent of low-income respondents have used other products such as toilet paper and socks when they cannot afford feminine hygiene products. And 24 percent of the respondents said that in the past year there have been times when they couldn't afford to purchase these products Those numbers go up to 34 percent in people making less than $30,000 a year.
The Bright Spot program has a champion in State Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin). In addition to celebrating the launch of the program, she has introduced House Bill 311 to eliminate the sales tax on feminine hygiene products.