KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Nicole Springer and the organization she started, No Shame, are working with existing nonprofits to get period products to those who need them in Kansas City.
They're also working to try to reduce any stigma that comes with periods or struggling to get period supplies.
“If you have any struggle at all to afford period products, then that’s period poverty that you’re not able to meet your body’s basic needs,” Springer explained.
A 2021 online survey of more than a thousand people who have periods found more than two in five struggled to buy period products. That study, done by the company “U by Kotex,” found that number had jumped by 35% just since 2018.
The data from that study also showed more than a third who have low incomes reported missing work, school or something like that because they said they didn’t have access to period supplies.
KSHB 41 News followed No Shame while they took 100 of their "period packs" to Operation Breakthrough and the hundreds of families they serve.
No Shame drops off the period packs with pads, tampons and wipes, each month.
Operation Breakthrough employee Michell Jones works with the families who take home those period packs from the organization’s pantry.
“Before I got hired here, I was a parent and I still am,” she said. “It’s easy to get food on food stamps but we can’t get hygiene products. It means a lot. We get more people, more families that come in to grab hygiene than food now."
She said to too many of their families, products like tampons or pads may be considered a luxury they cannot afford when they are not a luxury at all.
Jones and Springer both know what that is like.
“I couldn’t afford my own period products off and on for a couple of years and then had to resort to stealing from my company’s stock room,” Springer recalled.
Springer started No Shame in 2020 while volunteering with those experiencing homelessness and admits she didn’t think about the need until she saw someone else mention it online.
“It’s OK if you’ve never thought of this before. I never thought of it and I experienced it. The point is you know about it. Now the seed has been planted, you can plant the seed too," Springer said.
Part of the goal is to educate.
“I had never thought about it once and that’s crazy when half the population goes through this,” said Erica Nguyen, a volunteer with No Shame.
The more people learn about period poverty, the more products are donated to the organization.
“I just put it on Facebook and here we are today, you know, over 76,000 period products donated to us,” Springer said.
Those donations can come from individuals or drives, like the one hosted recently by the Johnson County Bar Association.
“It’s not that we want period products. We have to have them so why would there be a stigma to it? I don’t know. So thank goodness there are charities like No Shame who are giving to women that really need them,” said Tracey DeMarea, executive director of the Johnson County Bar Association.
Access to the period products can have a big effect on a young person's future.
“Girls should not miss school because they’re worried about bleeding into their pants. I mean, that’s the reality of it,” Nguyen said.
“It’s really hard because if you don’t have this in a community for these children, these children are suffering,” Jones added.
No Shame submitted testimony to Kansas Lawmakers supporting a bill that would exempt hygiene products, including period products, from state sales tax.
KSHB 41 News reached out to the sponsor of that bill who said so far there is no further action planned for that bill, but that he plans to offer an amendment incorporating parts of the bill to another sales tax exemption bill if any make it to the House floor for debate.
If you’d like to support No Shame, they say they are still a grassroots organization, not yet a 501c3 and instead of monetary donations, you can donate products at any of their drop off locations or shop their Amazon wish list. They also have a packing party coming up in April.