Jilly Pads pantry offers free menstrual products in California neighborhood – 89.3 WFPL News Louisville
A former newspaper dispenser has been transformed into a period pantry providing free access to menstrual products for those in need.
New Jilly stamps Period panties are located at Change Today, Change Tomorrow on South 15th Street.
Jillian Ward-Butler, 15, created Jilly Pads when she was 9 years old. She said she noticed early on that access to menstrual products was not easy for everyone, especially homeless people.
“I noticed that you have to use paper towels and toilet paper and it all basically falls apart,” Ward-Butler said. “I thought it would have been better if it was easier [to] to access.”
Ward-Butler said it made sense to make menstrual products free and accessible.
She started the organization as a project to help fill the gaps she saw in the accessibility of menstrual products by distributing menstrual products at Grace Hope Presbyterian Church in the Smoketown Jackson neighborhood.
“I would go there every Thursday after school, like after school at home, and we would give out pads and tampons, Diva cups and period panties,” Ward-Butler said. “And it just kept getting bigger and bigger.”
Ward-Butler then installed his first pantry at the church. Inside each pantry there are pads and tampons of all sizes, menstrual cups, period panties, incontinence products and black underwear.
Butler-Ward aims to ensure that vintage pantries have as many options as possible for those with different product preferences.
Beyond period pantries and events to distribute, it also offers home delivery of period products.
“Someone DMed me on Instagram and was like, ‘Hey Jill, I need pads and tampons right now, can you deliver them to me? I don’t really have a way. to go out and pick them up,” Butler-Ward said.
When she receives these messages, Ward-Butler said she responds by bringing the products directly to the requester.
Ward-Butler hopes to partner with other organizations to set up menstrual pantries like the one at Change Today, Change Tomorrow.
Change Today, Change Tomorrow began its partnership with Jilly Pads in 2020. The organization aims to address and reduce disparities in access to food and public health that particularly affect black people.
Prior to hosting a vintage pantry, Change Today, Change Tomorrow supported Jilly Pads by donating products and providing storage space.
“We love working with Jilly Pads,” the organization’s executive director, Taylor Ryan, said in a press release. “We are very fortunate to have and serve alongside Gen Z community leaders.”
Barriers faced by marginalized people in accessing menstrual products are a growing topic of conversation in the United States in recent years, as high prices and shortages have left some struggling to find vintage goods.
In Louisville, Metro Council member Paula McCraney, a Democrat representing District 7, spearheaded legislation calling on the state to eliminate sales taxes on diapers and menstrual products. Council members unanimously approved the proposals in July.
“You’d be surprised how many women have to spend more time with the same tampon or the same pad,” McCraney told WFPL News.
The issue of access or lack of menstrual products does not affect everyone equally. period of poverty affects people of color and low-income people. Lack of income forces some people to choose between buying essentials like food and period goods.
In Kentucky, 16.6% of residents live below the federal poverty line, which is higher than the national average.
According to US Census data analyzed by the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy in 2020, women are 3% more likely than men to live in poverty. Black residents are about 11% more likely to live in poverty than their white counterparts.
At the state level, Democratic Representative Attica Scott introduced similar bills in 2019, but they were never taken up by the General Assembly.
These policies could potentially help thousands of Kentuckians facing menstrual poverty.
Butler-Ward hopes Jilly Pads can alleviate some of the stress associated with menstrual poverty and alleviate some of the worries about access.