Student run program provides free feminine products at Columbia high schools

COLUMBIA - The Columbia School Board announced a program that will provide free feminine products across all high schools.

Rock Bridge High School sophomore Shruti Gautam got things started in August 2018.

Carla London, the chief equity officer of CPS, said Gautam “asked how, as we look through an equity lense, if that would be a conversation that we’d even need to have if men were in charge of feminine products. Is it something we would be charging students for?”

CPS Superintendent Peter Stiepleman said dispensers don't always work and going  to the school nurse can feel somewhat intrusive. As part of a grant, school nurses ask students questions like “why weren't you prepared?'” he said. 

Currently, at Rock Bridge, restrooms are equipped with a basket of free feminine products and there is an “army of supporters” who check them.

London said Gautam who started the program gathered data and would closely check how often products were used. She provided estimates on how much product would be necessary.

“These supporters monitor the restrooms and make checklists,” London said. “When products fell short students would replenish the supply.”

London said students at Hickman High School and Battle High School are also ready to lead programs there.

Free feminine products will be readily available starting next school year.

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