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Bristol community initiative continues to work to help end period poverty

The Women & Girls Fund collected feminine hygiene products and distributed them to schools, shelters, and human service agencies.

BRISTOL, Conn. — The Main Street Community Foundation was created in 1995 and is home to 263 funds that benefit the surrounding six communities. The foundation services Bristol, Burlington, Plainville, Plymouth, Southington and Wolcott.

Samantha Rojetta, the foundation's Scholarship & Program Officer, said many of the funds are permanent endowments. 

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"They were established by local individuals, families, businesses, and organizations for whatever causes or organizations they care about," Rojetta explained. 

The Women & Girls Fund was established in 2001 as a community-based endowment of the Main Street Community Foundation.

It was created to help women in girls within the foundation's six servicing counties through supporting programs and initiatives. In 2021, the fund launched its feminine hygiene initiative to help fight period poverty. 

Products were collected before the fund's annual Wonder of Women (WOW) event. Items were then distributed to schools, shelters, and human service agencies.  

WOW event co-chairs Jeanine Audette and Dawn Nielsen said this was vital for their surrounding communities. 

"We're all about recognizing certain issues and challenges that women and girls have in the communities that we serve," Nelsen said. "Sometimes those women and girls just don't have access to that within the schools and within the community service agencies that serve women and girls."

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Because feminine hygiene products are not covered by WIC and SNAP benefits, Audette added that many women are left with tough decisions.

"$10 worth of feminine hygiene products doesn't sound like a lot," Audette explained. "But for a single mom, that $10 can buy her kids bread, peanut butter, jelly, and eggs. So then, she is faced with the decision, do I buy enough or do I, you know, spend this money for food for my family?" 

According to Main Street Community Foundation, 46% of low-income women had to choose between buying products or meals. At the same time, one in five teens struggle to afford period products.

That is why Audette said it's vital for women and girls to have access to feminine hygiene products, much like they would a food pantry.

She emphasized that people with food insecurity also have financial insecurity, and they still need those essential products.

"It's really important for all of us to pay it forward to help those that aren't don't find themselves in as lucky positions as we do," Audette said. 

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The Women & Girls Fund at the Main Street Community Foundation hopes to continue its feminine hygiene distribution to end period poverty for years to come. 

Raquel Harrington is the race and culture reporter at FOX61 News. She can be reached at rharrington@fox61.comFollow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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