McMaster students launch 'Period Pop-Ups' offering free menstrual products

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City Council finally approved a pilot program this year that would put free menstrual products in certain Hamilton recreation centres. A program that took nearly four years to get off the ground thanks to uptightness, naivety, and plenty of red tape.

Meanwhile, a pair of McMaster University students are taking it upon themselves to provide residents with the basic necessity.

Rita Audi and Meghna Varambally, two undergraduate students in the Faculty of Health Sciences, recently launched Period Pop-Ups.

The “take what you need, donate what you can” system provides free menstrual products, 24-hours a day and seven days a week.

In an interview with McMaster Daily News contributor Sarah Janes, the students said they met during a first-year course and came up with the idea at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic after being inspired by the idea of community fridges.

Period products are likely to become secondary to other necessities during the pandemic,” Audi told Janes. “This project raises awareness that all menstruators deserve to have the right to access free products.”

The initiative is supported by a Rising Youth grant the students received through Taking It Global, a platform that empowers youth to pursue community service projects.

The project now boasts more than 40 volunteers.

We hope for this to be the start of a network of pantries that are community-driven,” said Varambally.

According to Audi and Varambally, other organizations have hosted menstrual product drives for their period pop-ups.

The pantry is currently located at Dundurn Market.

The next location slated for a pantry in Hamilton is with the YWCA located on MacNab St.

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