Where to get free menstrual products while UF SG gets its act together
‘Our goal is to allow others to see that access to these products should not be a luxury; therefore free products at UF would mean that we have accomplished our goal as an organization.’
In the beginning of January, UF's Student Government revoked a motion to offer free menstrual products to students, which was met with overwhelming criticism.
In the meantime, students may access free menstrual kits (as well as donate) at the UF Field and Fork Pantry. You do not need to show proof of financial need.
The Tab spoke with Gators for Camions of Care and reached out to its co-founder, Melanie Vargas, who told us everything you need to know about receiving menstrual products from the Field and Fork pantry:
What's in the kits?
The kits have: 5 pads, 5 panty liners, and 8 tampons. We are also big on “body-positivity” so we usually write encouraging notes inside or outside the bag. We try our best to be inclusive to all individuals who menstruate and make our packaging as gender-neutral as possible.
Note: The limit is one bag/kit per week.
How many kits do you make? Is there a limit per week/month/year?
We have made over ~1,200 kits since we started last January. We usually make around ~100 packages every month depending on how many donations we have. There is no limit because we believe that the more kits we can make, the stronger the overall impact.
How would UF supplying free menstrual products affect the organization?
If UF were to supply free menstrual products, it would only strengthen our message. If a huge university like UF paid attention to this need then it might prompt other major institutions to do the same. Our goal is to allow others to see that access to these products should not be a luxury; therefore free products at UF would mean that we have accomplished our goal as an organization. Afterwards, we would probably start focusing on reaching out to local homeless shelters and communities abroad that are in need.
Are you trying to make the kits more accessible in any way?
The problem we’re facing now is that many students are not aware of the pantry exists or that these products are available to them monthly. Therefore, we hope to expand our social media presence and to help the pantry advertise to the UF community.
Who gets the menstrual kits that you make? Is it just the UF Pantry or do you send them anywhere else?
When I started this chapter with (now) UF Alumni Emily Rodriguez, we wanted the organization to first help the UF community and then branch out to other parts of Gainesville. Camions of Care has only been running for a year and during this time, we have been able to establish a steady partnership with the UF Field and Fork Pantry and they can count on us to deliver them products every month. However, we hope to expand our impact this year to help serve the overwhelming homeless population in Gainesville that is affected everyday with period poverty.
How do you get the products? Are you operating strictly off donations or do people give products too?
We are the menstrual product liaisons for the Field and Fork pantry, therefore any donations made to the pantry are sent to us so we can package them. Another huge and sustainable way that we have been acquiring products is through partnerships with interested organizations at UF. We usually set up a drive with a certain student organization and then help them host a packing party so they can feel more involved in the process.
Have you heard of the petitions for free menstrual products for UF students? What do you and the other members think of them?
Like everyone who is behind the petition; we feel anger, frustration, and are saddened by the idea that UF cannot see the importance in providing free menstrual products to its students. However, we are delighted and a bit surprised on how much uproar this topic has gotten. We support the petition and hope that it sends a positive message about the importance of access to these products. We also hope that this spark of interest in the topic will help our organization receive more donations and interested members so that we can expand our impact.
UF Field Fork and Pantry is located at 520 Newell Drive.