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Kansas City nonprofit discusses period product supply shortage, alternatives

Period products shortage causing nonprofit to see an uptick in demand
Posted at 5:41 AM, Jul 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-12 09:46:19-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The supply chain crisis is believed to be causing period products to be in short supply while costs to make these products keep trickling on up.

Giving Hope and Help focuses on ending period poverty and are noticing more people seeking out their service.

Jessica McClellan, Giving Hope and Help's founder, estimates they gave out more than 2,000 products within the span of a week last month.

"People don't know that this is a global problem, it's not a woman problem or menstrator problem," McClellan explained. "People are kind of in shame needing these period products and oftentimes women and menstrators have to decide if they're going to feed their family or they're going to buy period products."

McClellan says the shortage has not impacted her own supply, but it's causing demand to go up. She estimates on average it costs someone $30-45 a month to be on their period and expects that price to be higher due to the shortage. While it's a problem that's impacting all menstrators, McClellan says some groups are being targeted most.

"Menstrators that live in the city, because there's not the large discount stores located within the city, so they're pushed to go to the convenience stores and pharmacies, which naturally, they're more expensive in the city, and also the homeless community," McClellan said.

Kansas City doctors are concerned about the impact this shortage will have on a person's health. Dr. Rebecca Lobell, an obstetrician-gynecologist at St. Luke's Hospital, says she hasn't had an patients express concern in finding products, but is worried about people potentially trying to stretch out their products.

"I would not recommend trying to reuse tampons or extend the life of them," Dr. Lobell said. "There are health risks associated with that and we would recommend avoiding that."

In the meantime, Lobell says now is the time to think of using reusable products to combat the ongoing shortage. Lobell says reusable products, such as menstrual cups, are a safe option, and easy to clean.

"It does not absorb blood, it collects it," Lobell explained. "That risk is essentially zero-chance of toxic shock syndrome, so that's it's one of the safest options we have out there as an alternative to a tampon, it's also eco-friendly because it's reusable."

McClellan is also noticing more interest in reusable products, she is also offering a Period Pantry the first Saturday of every month for anyone in need of products at St. Paul A.M.E. Church in Kansas City, Kansas. She is also accepting donations online.