Two county legislators will host a menstrual product drive at their respective offices this month to help individuals in need.
Suffolk County Legislature presiding officer Rob Calarco of Patchogue and Legis. Bridget Fleming of Sag Harbor will be collecting unopened boxes of pads, tampons and liners from March 15 to April 5.
As it stands, menstrual products are not covered by government assistance programs, such as SNAP or Medicaid.
“It’s one of those things that most people, especially men, don’t think about but is actually really something that’s a necessity just like other sanitary products like soap, toothbrushes or toothpaste,” Calarco said. “These are things people need to just live their day-to-day lives.”
Fleming and Calarco decided to host the drive after speaking to local domestic violence shelters, Calarco said, that claimed the supplies were needed.
“When women come to the shelter, they are fleeing the situation they’re in,” Vicki Cooper, shelter director at The Retreat in East Hampton, said. “They’re seeking out safety, so when they arrive here they arrive without any of their belongings, without any of their comforts, without any of their toiletries. We have to provide them with all of the essential products that they need, and that does include period products.”
Fleming is passionate about bringing these products into food pantries to simplify the process of obtaining the supplies.
“When people are going to the food pantries, we want to make sure that it’s just another item,” Fleming said. “We want to make sure that they don’t have to ask, they don’t have to experience any type of stigma. It’s there with the groceries.”
Menstrual products can be dropped off at Calarco’s office, located at 90 W. Main Street, Suite 2N in Patchogue, or Fleming’s office, located at 75 Washington Street in Sag Harbor. Individuals should call either office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. to schedule a drop-off. Calarco’s office can be reached at 631-854-1400. Fleming’s office is 631-852-8400.