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Sixth Go With The Flow drive collects menstrual products for local organizations

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CJ's cupboard, located in McGaveran-Greenberg Hall, is pictured on Sept. 23, 2022.

Two out of five women in the United States struggled to afford menstrual products within the past year, according to the Alliance for Period Supplies. Data from the organization also says North Carolina is one of only 21 states that still taxes menstrual products.

However, organizations in Carrboro and Chapel Hill are working on improving menstrual product accessibility.

This year, the sixth Go With the Flow menstrual product drive and benefit was held from Oct. 9 to 12. It collected donations of tampons, pads and cups at The Beehive, Flyleaf Books, Syd’s Hair Shop and Orange County Social Club.

The beneficiaries included Inter-Faith Council for Social Service, UNC Horizons Program, CJ's Cupboard, Carolina Cupboard and Freedom House Recovery Center.

The drive concluded with an event at Orange County Social Club, where a percent of the proceeds was donated. The event included period-themed cocktails and music,

Tricia Mesigian, owner of the social club and co-host of the event, said that as the years have passed, it has become easier to talk about menstrual product accessibility.

“I was more kid-gloves about talking about it — with men, especially," she said. "Now I just don't care. People need this stuff. The evolution of just being able to talk freely about this is something that people need.”

This year, CJ’s Cupboard was added as a beneficiary. CJ’s Cupboard is a pantry located in UNC's McGavran-Greenberg Hall that provides Gillings School of Global Public Health students with food and hygiene items. 

Allison De Marco, a faculty member in UNC's School of Social Work, said while some may assume college students can afford hygiene products, this is often not the case.

“I think that's largely a misconception in our community that students are all highly well resourced, and we know that's not true,” De Marco said.

Flyleaf Books was one of the drop-off centers for the menstrual items collected during the drive.

“This is pretty much the type of thing that we like to do, anything that helps support women's health and the access to menstrual products, especially to folks who don't have the ability to pay for them,” Jamie Fiocco, the owner of Flyleaf Books, said.

She said she learned about the drive from a poster at a nearby business.

“I think this is a really good way that small businesses give back to their communities and that knit our community that much more closely together,” she said.

Alongside menstrual product accessibility, De Marco said she is concerned about a lack of public restroom facilities in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. She said Carrboro has a 24-hour restroom at the Carrboro Town Hall, but that Chapel Hill's public restrooms at Wallace Parking Deck are hidden and in poor shape. 

“We have a dearth of 24-hour public restrooms in our community in downtown Chapel Hill and Carrboro,” De Marco said. “When there was a needs assessment done a couple of years ago, one of the things that folks who were advocating for were better restrooms and for products in public restrooms. “

Currently, several businesses — including Syd’s Hair Shop and Brandwein's Bagels — provide free hygiene products in their facilities, but De Marco said more businesses could do the same.

"Periods aren't always as predictable as we might like, so it's nice to have emergency supplies easily accessible," she said.

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com

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