ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) -- Georgia public schools in low-income areas will receive $1.25 million to make menstrual cycle products available and address period poverty among students beginning July 1.
In addition, local health departments will receive $200,000 to supply students when school is not in session and address community needs for period products.
Research shows that one in four teens has missed class due to lack of access to period supplies. In Georgia, school nurses and other staff members have often borne the cost of making period products available in their schools.
Georgia Stop Tax On Menstrual Products (STOMP), a non-partisan statewide coalition of 30 member organizations, working with legislators in both parties, academic researchers, and state agencies to address the issue of period poverty in Georgia, was a leader in seeing this funding established.
“Since 2017, when Georgia STOMP brought menstrual equity issues to the legislature, Georgia has made significant advances in the supply of menstrual products and in eliminating period poverty in our state,” said Claire Cox, a leader in the Georgia STOMP coalition. “State agencies have addressed provision of products following natural disasters, provision of products in state prisons, and the legislature has allocated money for menstrual products in schools,” Cox said.
”Georgia is now a national leader in addressing period poverty among students, committing money to ensure lack of menstrual products is not a factor in decreasing attendance rates in school systems throughout the state,” said State Senator Tonya Anderson (District 43-Lithonia), noting that leadership in both chambers worked to lessen the effects of period poverty in Georgia.
Across the United States, legislatures are passing legislation to require the provision of period products in public schools. However, Cox said Georgia STOMP took a different approach in Georgia.
Beginning in 2019, the Georgia General Assembly allocated $1 million to the Department of Education and $500,000 to the Department of Public Health to help ensure that having a period is not a barrier to getting an education in our state.
“Despite the ups and downs of funding levels through the economic downturn and the threat of budget shortfalls due to COVID, legislators continued to allocate money to address period poverty, resulting in the $1.45 million allocation in FY2022,” Cox said. “This demonstrates a commitment to Georgia’s students and saves local school boards from shifting money to cover the cost of these crucial supplies.”
In addition to working with the legislature to ensure funding, Georgia STOMP continues to research period product need in Georgia’s public schools and works closely with the Department of Education to communicate “best practices” for distribution of products in schools while minimizing “shaming” of those who need them, Cox noted.
Additional areas of work by Georgia STOMP include provision of products in state prisons and local jails, assisting Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency with provision of products following emergencies or disasters and working to eliminate the discriminatory sales tax on menstrual products in Georgia.