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Utah public and charter schools will provide free period products

Aunt Flow Dispenser.jpeg
goauntflow.com
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goauntflow.com
Free period products will be available in Utah schools this year.

Free menstrual supplies are now available in Wasatch Back School districts.

A new Utah law calls for free tampons, pads, and other menstural supplies in female and unisex bathrooms this school year. The company supplying the dispenser and products is Aunt Flow.

Senior Director of Happiness-AKA Sales Sarah Djubek said founder and CEO (Chief Estrogen Officer) Claire Coder was 18 when she started the company about six years ago.

"Founded from her own personal experience and also what was happening to so many other females in the marketplace, the goal of our company was to really ensure no one ever has to worry about having their period in public," Djubek said. "And we've been able to accomplish that by creating a free vend patented tampon and pad dispensing system."

Aunt Flow Students.jpeg
Aunt Flow
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Students and employees celebrate the installation of Aunt Flow products in schools.

The Policy Project sponsored HB 162, the Utah Period Project, in the last legislative session. It passed unanimously in the legislature in March. Governor Spencer Cox signed the bill, and now access to free period products in Utah's schools is required by law.

The Utah State Board of Education, partnering with the Policy Project, will oversee the program, which includes educating students on using period products. Djubek said there are student ambassadors who represent schools throughout the state.

They'll make sure the dispensers are correctly installed and are in stock. Djubek said many menstruating women and girls don't know they will typically need about 25 pieces of menstrual products during one cycle.

"How are we ensuring that students are made aware that the products are available? How are they ensuring that they're being kept refilled by the schools? But then as well, how are we then amplifying that message into the community through library systems, health community systems, private businesses to say, this isn't just a K through 12 issue," Djubek said. "This is a worldwide issue, that women still have a barrier. Anyone who menstruates has a barrier when they cannot afford or have access to period products."

Djubeck said educating non-menstruating people about the anatomy is essential, and there should be open discussions about navigating periods.

The Larry H. and Gail Miller Family Foundation and the Andrus Family Foundation have donated millions to fund the Period Project in Utah, said Djubeck.

Many nutrition programs don't allow the purchase of menstrual products under state guidelines. Djubek refers to it as period poverty, where one in five people miss work or school because they can't afford to buy tampons or pads.

Djubek said people are often ashamed to ask for help, and communities should understand how period poverty affects everyone.

"And just like with food poverty, people are so embarrassed or so ashamed that they're afraid to ask but they so desperately need these products," Djubek said. "We're getting phone calls from 12 year olds to Aunt Flow saying how can I get this in my school? It's so desperately needed for my friends." 

Click here for more information about Aunt Flow and the Period Project

KPCW reporter Carolyn Murray covers Summit and Wasatch County School Districts. She also reports on wildlife and environmental stories, along with breaking news. Carolyn has been in town since the mid ‘80s and raised two daughters in Park City.