Welcome to Free Flow

The program to bring supplies to females in need and bring awareness to menstrual health inequity in Richland County



Females miss school or work monthly from not having access to products

What is Free Flow

The Richland County Free Flow program is a menstrual health equity program that provides free menstrual health supplies, menstrual health education, and maintains an interactive map detailing locations in Richland County that provide the above mentioned resources and information. The program aims to address period poverty, and increase awareness of menstrual health inequity of menstruators in Richland County. With a lack of access to menstrual health supplies, 1 in 4 young women will miss class and/or work monthly. Young women in Richland County should never feel like their overall health, well-being, and quality of life suffers because of their natural menstrual cycle, especially when cost-effective and sustainable solutions are available.

Period poverty is defined as a lack of access to menstrual products, education, and adequate hygiene facilities. Currently, period poverty is a significant issue in our community (especially among young women) who do not have the means to purchase menstrual health products. By forgoing the use of legitimate menstrual health products, these young women are forced to resort to unhygienic methods of maintaining their periods (e.g., utilizing make-shift pads or tampons made of toilet paper, cardboard, newspaper, paper wrappers, etc.). These actions result in several reproductive health issues and substantial healthcare costs young women cannot afford.

Why Here?

Effective Oct. 3, 2023, Ohio Law requires each traditional public school district, community school, STEM school and chartered nonpublic school with school buildings that enroll girls in grades six through twelve to provide free menstrual products. The free supplies will serve as a means for economically disadvantaged students, and students from historically underserved backgrounds to access necessary menstrual health resources. Offering free menstrual health resources has been shown to increase class attendance by up to 2.4%. This increase in class attendance should assist in increasing the total number of female graduates up from a total of 76.

Why Now?

Richland Public Health has partnered with the Richland County Foundation, and the National Library of Medicine (NLM) to create the Free Flow program. Both organizations in collaboration with Richland Public Health are committed to increasing community awareness, improving health outcomes, and empowering local community members & menstruators to address health issues in their community. The Network of the National Library of Medicine (NNLM) Region 6 also awarded funds from the Health Information Award to the Free Flow program. These generous awards provide the Free Flow program the necessary funding to reach the desired scope, create educational materials, and purchase enough menstrual products to serve schools and libraries in Richland County.

Menstrual Equity Facts

  • It costs approx. $800.00 to equip a single restroom with the equipment and menstrual supplies necessary to initiate the Free Flow program.
  • For one menstrual cycle, a young woman will utilize at least 4 pads or tampons per day which equates to ≥ 28 sanitary products per month and ≥ 12,700 products in a lifetime.
  • With the average cost of pads and tampons around $0.70 a piece, a young woman will spend at least $230 per year and ≥ $8,900 over a lifetime to manage their menses hygienically.
  • Each year on May 28, Menstrual Hygiene Day is observed to highlight good menstrual hygiene practices during your period and to raise awareness about the importance of access to menstrual products, period education, and sanitation facilities.

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