Advocating For Women. Period.

May 30, 2024  |  by Maggie Prendergast   |  

Did you know that one million women and girls are facing poverty right here in New York City? At Food Bank, we believe in taking a holistic approach to fighting poverty and empowering our city's women and girls. That's why we not only provide essential period and hygiene supplies to those who menstruate, but also advocate for policies that create real benefits for women and girls living in NYC. 

IMG_5802Volunteers wrote letters to policy makers to advocate for the needs of women and girls facing poverty. 

This spring, our incredible volunteers and staff members came together to pack 1,800 hygiene kits, write heartfelt letters of support, and urge our representatives to uplift and empower women and girls in our community. 

IMG_5666Volunteers included a hand-written note in each kit to remind the recipient that they are special and deserving. 

IMG_5816-1Packing kits with the essentials people need.

So, what exactly goes into a Food Bank Hygiene Kit?

We're talking all the essentials – pads, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, bar soap, and deodorant. These kits play a crucial role in helping to deliver dignity and inspire confidence for those who may struggle to access these necessities. And to make these kits even more special, our volunteers took the time to write personalized letters, reminding recipients that they are seen, valued, and supported. The kits are distributed through our Mobile and Campus Pantries, ensuring they reach those who need them most. 

IMG_5807Kit essentials included shampoo, deodorant, and conditioner. 

IMG_5825Manager of Volunteer Engagement Aaliyah Cardenas helped make this effort possible.

But we didn't stop there! Our volunteers channeled their inner advocates by writing letters to elected officials, urging them to support the expansion of food assistance programs for women and prioritize affordable childcare. We know that these resources are absolutely critical in the lives of women and families throughout New York City. 

IMG_5803Over 40 advocacy postcards were mailed to New York State representatives. 

IMG_5670A volunteer poses at our Warehouse with packed kits ready to deliver to those who need them.

We were thrilled to have New York City Council Majority Leader Amanda Farías, a dedicated advocate for women, join us at our warehouse on April 20 to pack Hygiene Kits. Farías is leading the charge to make menstruation supplies available at New York City's public schools, so no one has to miss out on their education because of their period. 

Watch the video below to see Council Majority Leader Farias in action: 


Volunteers also powered our effort to provide New Yorkers with period essentials. Junior Board member, Julia Lichtenstein, transformed her baby shower into a celebration of giving back to families in our community. She hosted a diaper drive as her gift registry and she and her guests were able to donate 1,500 diapers (read more about it here).

And Becky Stromfeld hosted a month-long drive at the Wildlife Conservation Society and invited her coworkers to donate essentials. Their efforts resulted in a large donation of items frequently needed by our clients including diapers, soap, tampons, and pads. Our volunteers’ generosity and creativity never cease to amaze us! 

W2W-CKP-DONATION-2Becky and her coworker donated essential items to our Community Kitchen and Pantry in Harlem.  

With these actions combined, the impact was truly remarkable. We successfully packed over 2,000 hygiene kits and essential items were donated by dedicated volunteers and distributed to our clients. Plus, dozens of letters were written and sent to elected officials, advocating for the inclusion of funding for vital hunger-fighting programs and affordable childcare policies in the New York City budget:

FB W2W 24_Postcard-advocacy-to-share-for-jessica-02-1Food Bank advocates for policies that create real change for New York's women and girls.  

Food Bank remains committed to supporting and empowering women and girls in our community. By providing essential resources and advocating for policies that address the unique challenges faced by women, we strive to create a more equitable and resilient city for all. The dedication and compassion demonstrated by our volunteers and staff during these events serve as a powerful reminder of the impact we can make when we come together to support one another. 

What is Period Poverty?  

If you’re unfamiliar with the term “period poverty,” it basically refers to the difficulty some face in affording the menstrual hygiene products they need to safely take care of their periods. The monthly cost of period products can be extremely prohibitive for individuals already struggling to pay for things like food, rent, and utilities. So, they may go without, meaning they’ll either skip work or school to avoid the shame of menstruating in public without the tools they need to do so hygienically or safely. To learn more about period poverty and its affects on those who menstruate, click here. 

A special thanks to our generous partners at  Always, Wegmans, and P&G for providing us with the resources we needed to pack these hygiene kits for our communities. 

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