When we think about luxury items, we think about fast cars, diamonds, name brand clothing, or even expensive bags. One thing that most likely doesn’t come to mind are feminine hygiene products. Most people would consider those products a necessity. But many women around the world know that that’s not the case.
Non-profit organization, She Supply, has made it their mission to eliminate period poverty for women once and for all.
The idea of She Supply began in August of 2016. Chairwoman of She Supply, Kathy Meyer, went on a youth choir mission trip and was introduced to the issue of period poverty. Seeing that this was an issue, Kathy got a group of women together for lunch where they discussed the notion of creating an organization to help women who were suffering from this injustice.
In September of 2016, the group applied to be a non-profit organization. It was here that She Supply truly began to make a change in our society.
“It started with women bringing items such as pads, tampons, and panty liners to group functions,” Vice Chairwoman, Dr. Lisa Pierce Johnson said.
“Period poverty is effecting hundreds if not thousands of women in Denton County,” Lisa said. “We have 161,000 women in Denton County that live below the poverty line. The most shocking part of this is that feminine hygiene products are included as a luxury tax item. This means that women who live below the poverty line can’t use their Lonestar cards or government funds to purchase their feminine hygiene necessities, such as pads and tampons. “Women are having to choose between food for their children and their need for feminine hygiene products,” Lisa said.
What started as a small organization has quickly grown into something bigger than they ever imagined. “We started with three partner agencies, Pedi Place, Friends of the Family, and Salvation Army,” Lisa said. The foundation began with packing parties, where the women would take 10 feminine hygiene products and package them into little baggies and then deliver them to the partner agencies.
“In the last four years She Supply has grown beyond belief. We now work with 15 partner agencies,” Lisa said.
“This has been an amazing journey,” Lisa said. She Supply even saw success last year during the height of COVID-19. She Supply delivered 249,000 packages of bras, panties, and feminine hygiene products during COVID. “In the world of period poverty, we use a term called cycles funded. The amount of donations we delivered last year equaled to 45,000 cycles,” Lisa said.
With the growth of She Supply, the non-profit organization now sees donations on a much larger scale. However, they still deliver small packaging to the Salvation Army because that is what that partnering agency needs for the area.
“This year we’ve already exceeded our number of donations from last year,” Lisa said.
As of the end of July, She Supply had delivered 228,705 packages to their partnering agencies.
“People are blown away when we tell them that feminine hygiene products are considered a luxury,” Lisa said. The luxury tax was started during the war and was intended to create funds for the militia. What started out as helpful has now lost its usefulness.
“No one believes that these products are a luxury,” Lisa said.
Period poverty is something that affects 1 in 4 women. And yet, tampons and pads are some of the least commonly donated items to homeless shelters and food banks.
“No one wants to show up to a job interview and have a fear that they’ll have an accident,” Lisa said. “Having the resources to be able to receive feminine products creates a sense of decency and greatly impacts a woman’s confidence. We’re empowering women. We’re sisters lifting each other up.”
She Supply has gone above and beyond to create feminine hygiene equality for the women of Denton County but also our surrounding areas. What started out as a small group of women wanting to meet a need has turned into an organization that is changing the lives of our locally deprived women.
She Supply is opening the eyes of people everywhere that period poverty is a real thing and it’s time for a change.
photos courtesy of Dr. Lisa Johnson