How to get your school to offer free period products

This is a guest post by the Founder and CEO of Aunt Flow, Claire Coder.

You have been hearing the buzz about free feminine hygiene products at schools. You’ve watched Nancy Kramer’s TED Talk, which launched the national #FreeTheTampons moment. YOU are ready to take action and help YOUR school join the menstrual movement. 

Let’s get started!

Who should I talk to about offering free menstrual products on campus?

The best place to start is with your Parent Teacher Association (PTA). They may consider purchasing products to run a pilot program in certain areas of the school for a certain period of time. While the pilot is in the works, you will want to draft a proposal to the school in an effort to add menstrual products to the school budget. (Contact us for help drafting a proposal)

What should I say when talking to the student government or faculty?

Data is helpful. A recent study completed by P&G found that 1 in 5 girls in the USA have either left school early or missed school entirely because they did not have access to period products. While we agree that offering menstrual products is the right thing to do, it is important to demonstrate to the school the “return on investment” of offering free menstrual products.

What kind of budget do we need to set aside?

To stock an entire school, it is about $5 to $7 per female student, per year. There is also the initial cost of installing either a box or a dispenser in each bathroom. Aunt Flow offers our signature wall-mounted boxes for $20/bathroom and our free-vend dispensers. To run an effective pilot program, plan to spend between $1,000 – $2,000 depending on your school size.

Where can we get the funds?

The ultimate goal is to get the school to fund the program with its facilities budget. To fund a pilot program, funding will most likely come from the Parent Teacher Association.

Who is in charge of stocking the restrooms?

If a PTA is running the pilot program, the PTA will be responsible for restocking. Once the school is funding the project, the school’s maintenance department will be responsible for restocking. The general rule is that tampons follow the toilet paper. If toilet paper is being restocked by a maintenance company once a week, the tampons will be restocked once a week by the maintenance department. When implementing a program, it is important to include maintenance and facilities in the conversations.

Do we need a dispenser, or can we just use an Aunt Flow box?

Schools have used both dispensers and boxes and we have seen success using both. We suggest using Aunt Flow’s wall-mounted free vend menstrual product dispenser. This ensures that product is not overused and that there is dedicated space for the program.

Will students take more products than they need?

There will be a large influx of usage during the first three months of offering free product. This is typical with any new “freebie” program. After 3 months, students understand that the products are always available and the usage will decrease. Only 16% of menstruators report relying solely on their school supply of menstrual products as their only supply.