UI Student Government to stock East Side Food Pantry with sustainable menstrual products

UI graduate and undergraduate shared governance are working to add more sustainable period products, such as period underwear or menstrual cups to the East Side Food Pantry.

Photo+illustration+by+Grace+Kreber

Grace Kreber

Photo illustration by Grace Kreber

Alliyah Lipsit, News Reporter


The University of Iowa Undergraduate Student Government and Graduate and Professional Student Government will work together to make menstrual products more sustainable and accessible to UI students who menstruate.

USG Director of Health and Safety Shalini Birari said the project aims to ensure UI students who menstruate have access to sustainable products they may need but cannot afford or find.

“In order to reduce the burden on the environment, when we can, I believe that we should be thinking about the things that we use day-to-day and how we can change our practices to be more sustainable,” Birari said.

GPSG Physical Safety Director Michaela Dohleman said that she stumbled across a study that had done an analysis on period poverty in relation to University of Missouri students and how it affected students missing class, work, internships, and other important events.

“I knew right away this had to be a problem for all people across all universities,” Dohleman said.

Another study by BMC Women’s Health from 2021 analyzes students from different U.S. colleges and identifies a clear correlation between depression and period poverty:

  • Out of the 14.2 percent of women who reported having experienced period poverty at least once in their life, 48.4 percent suffered from severe depression.
  • Out of the 10 percent that reported experiencing period poverty monthly, 68.1 percent reported symptoms consistent with moderate or severe depression.

“The undergraduate counterpart is funding period underwear,” Dohleman said. “We were concerned about the accessibility to DivaCups with certain medical conditions or religious beliefs.”

Dohleman said the original plan was to stock these menstrual products in several different locations on campus, such as the UI Office of Sustainability and the Women’s Resource and Action Center.

“I visited the East Side Food Pantry because I thought it was important for me to understand the resources that were available,” Dohleman said.

Dohleman got a $1,000 budget approved for menstrual products to stock the East Side Food Pantry located on the second floor of the IMU. The money will allow the creation of a separate section for menstrual products in the pantry.

Advertisements for these menstrual products will still be placed in the original locations where Dohleman and Birari wanted to place the products.

The budget allowed GPSG to secure 66 menstrual cups for the food pantry in February, which ran out in less than three weeks last time, Dohleman said.

USG Sen. Madison Ross said she supports the approval of additional funding for more menstrual products.

“Student government is dedicated to ensuring accessible products and services for everyone on campus,” she said.

Dohleman added that GPSG plans to propose a $1,500 budget at the next meeting on April

5 for another 96 menstrual cups for the East Side Food Pantry, which many USG and GPSG members support.

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