KANSAS CITY, Mo. — According to a 2022 Journal of Global Health Reports article, roughly two-thirds of women in the U.S. with a low income could not afford menstrual products in the last year. It also stated nearly half of those women sometimes had to choose between buying food or menstrual products.
Micheala Miller doesn't want people to have to choose.
"There are so many layers to period poverty, whether it's legislation, affordability and tax carriers," Miller said. "It just is an unavoidable and anatomical event."
Miller said lack of access to period products isn't just a public health issue, but also an education and mental health issue that contributes to anxiety and depression..
"When you don't have access to period products, it just kind of stops your whole life and kids in the school, it affects their education," Miller explained. "When people are forced to go without period products, they have to resort to unsafe management methods that can affect their health and cause serious illness."
It's why she created Strawberry Week Society, a passion project that turned into a nonprofit to address period poverty.
Miller works with several organizations and schools to make sure those in need, including families at Growing Futures Early Education Center, have access to essential products.
"I'm hearing everyday from families how they need extra support, where they're struggling at and it's hard because there's only so much that we can do," Growing Futures Lead Family Support Advocate Sophie Cassmeyer said. "To be able to give them these period products and say 'you don't have to worry about this this month. This is one less expense.' This is just really amazing."
Miller says it's been a challenge combatting inflation, along with the tampon shortage that happened last spring.
According to NielsenIQ data, the average prices of tampons rose nearly 10% and just over 8% for menstrual pads as of last May.
The year old organization relies on donations to ensure its community partners have what they need for their clients.
"As a nonprofit, it's a hard time for everyone right now and with less disposable income," Miller said. "We're finding it more challenging to receive consistent donations from individual donors, but thankfully we've been fortunate enough to receive grants and foundation support that have been helping us continue to meet the need."
Miller says while it can be challenging, when she does the monthly in-person drop offs, it's well worth it and rewarding to know who will benefit.
"Even though there are tough days where I'm up packing period packs or worrying about our inventory, those little bursts at drop-offs are really what keep me fueled," she said.
The organization also works with the Kansas City Library, to provide free period products in restrooms for patrons.
To donate new period products, Strawberry Week has a donation bin, which is a 24/7 drop off location. It's located at 204 W. 82nd St. in Waldo in Kansas City, Missouri.
Miller says people will often have their own collection drive with family, friends or church to raise donations and then give to Strawberry Week.