160+ School Nurses Attend Georgia STOMP Webinar!

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Feminine Hygiene Product Distribution Webinar Presentation Team (Matt Cardoza, Lynne Meadows, Dr. Andrea Swartzendruber, Tabitha Coverson and Adele Stewart)

On Monday, February 24th, Georgia STOMP, in cooperation with partner, Georgia Association of School Nurses (GASN), held a webinar for school nurses to learn more about the funding available for the purchase of period products in Georgia’s schools. The webinar was hosted by the Department of Education (DOE), with Matt Cardoza, Assistant Director of Policy and External Affairs, providing crucial assistance both operationally and as a participant, answering questions from attendees.

Lynne Meadows, GASN State Director, has worked closely with Georgia STOMP to assist school nurses efficiently distribute funds allocated by the state  for the purpose of providing feminine hygiene products in schools. This webinar was a natural next step in the GASN/Georgia STOMP partnership.

Over 160 nurses/counselors/social workers joined online to learn how the money was distributed and hear three case studies regarding best practices underway in Georgia. Distribution programs in Muscogee County (Florene Dawkins), Troup County (Tabitha Coverson) and Marietta City Schools (Dr. Rona Roberts) were highlighted. Additionally, Dr. Andrea Swartzendruber  from UGa’s College of Public Health, discussed the need for these products and the negative effects on learning, self-image and development, that a lack of period products can cause.

A Q&A session at the conclusion of the presentations was fully utilized by nurses, with questions submitted from all over the state. With GASN, DOE, Georgia STOMP, experienced nurses and those leading the state with successful wrap-around services, all in the room, it was an informative session of learning what the money can, and cannot, be used for and how to spend it.

If you missed the webinar, it is well worth a listen. You will find it here.

Thank you to all our presenters and to GASN and DOE for such a fruitful partnership!

Georgia STOMP Meets with Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones

JonesJanOn Wednesday, January 22nd, Dominique Holloman (Chair, JL of Ga SPAC), and Adele Stewart (Co-Lead, Georgia STOMP), met with Speaker Pro Tempore Jan Jones to discuss her support of menstrual hygiene product availability in schools and inquire how Georgia STOMP could assure the continued allocation of funds for that purpose.

The Speaker Pro Tem was strong in her support of this initiative, and plans to add language this year focusing the allocation on districts and schools that have both high poverty rates and surrounding areas of low wealth. That, she says, will ensure schools which cannot fund these products on their own, will receive the money and get the products to students most in need.

Moreover, the Speaker Pro Tem noted that Georgia STOMP would do well to identify additional gaps in menstrual product access where the Legislature’s attention may be impactful. If you have seen gaps in your community, please email us with your experiences so that we might gather feedback and offer anecdotal evidence about addressable instances of period poverty in Georgia.

Stay tuned for more updates on HB8 as the legislature returns this week!

 

 

School Nurse Webinar Co-hosted by Georgia STOMP!

On February 24th at noon, Georgia STOMP is honored to work alongside the Georgia Association of School Nurses to host a live webinar for school nurses and other school employees who distribute period products to students in Georgia. The webinar will originate on a platform provided by the Georgia Department of Education and include an opportunity for real time Q&A by participants.

The webinar will begin with an update on the distribution of funds earmarked in the 2019 legislative session for the purchase of feminine hygiene products in Georgia’s public schools, and through local health departments. Several case studies featuring local school leaders will highlight how various districts are distributing the funds and addressing the needs of students while minimizing stigmatization. Dr Andrea Swartzendruber, a Georgia STOMP coalition research partner from UGa, will speak on the developmental and psychological importance of accurate information related to menstruation, in addition to access to products. The webinar will conclude with Q&A from participating school staff and presenters.

As a Georgia STOMP follower, make sure your local school staff is aware of this opportunity!


 

School Nurse Webinar Flyer

2020 HB8 Progress!

CooperSharonFollowing a request from Rep. Debbie Buckner and Rep. Teri Anulewicz to Chairman Sharon Cooper of the Health and Human Services (HHS) Committee, HB8 was officially moved out of the Ways and Means Committee and into HHS on Wednesday, January 29th!

It had been made clear that HB8 would NOT get a hearing in the Ways and Means Committee this session.  Objections to the bill are varied, but include that despite being classified as medical devices by the FDA,  menstrual products are not considered medical devices in Georgia. The goal of moving to HHS is to get that designation accomplished. Chairman Sharon Cooper has voiced support of that effort, so we are hopeful for a successful 2020 legislative session!

Once the definition of the devices is changed in Georgia, we will work with the Department of Revenue to accomplish the tax exemption.

Stay tuned for a “Tax Free Tuesday” email with information on how to advocate for the change of definition of menstrual products in Georgia!

 

 

Advocacy Highlight: Students Speak to Fulton County School Board

This guest blog post was written by Aanika Eragam, student at Milton High School and a Homegirl Project fellow.  On December 3rd, Aanika spoke to the Fulton County School Board about the need for period products in Fulton County Schools.  Prior to that, Aanika  reached out to Georgia STOMP regarding her research and intention to speak to the School Board. We are honored to be connected to such a capable young leader! Watch the video and hear why!

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On December 3, 2019, a coalition of high school students presented a resolution to the Fulton County School Board, requesting a specific policy amendment that would require secondary schools to provide menstrual products free of cost in restrooms. The event was a culmination of collective student outrage stemming from a lack of access to period products in the school setting, an issue that holds grave implications for students’ mental and physical wellbeing, as well as their academic achievement. When products like toilet paper, hand soap, and paper towels are available free of cost in all restrooms, students had to ask why menstrual products, which are also considered a basic necessity, are not.

Students explained to the Board how a lack of free-of-cost menstrual products in public schools confiscates the basic dignity of students, disrupts the learning environment for girls, and for those living below the poverty line, leaves them without basic access. Students hope they made a strong case to the Board and placed period poverty on the agenda. They will continue to work towards ensuring accountability through civic engagement at the grassroots level.

 

Spotlight on Period.UGA!

IMG_8676Under the leadership of Chapter President, Jessica Ma, the PERIOD. group at the University of Georgia is thriving and bringing the message of menstrual equity to the campus in Athens.

On November 4th, following Period.UGA’s recent addition as a member, Georgia STOMP leadership updated a roomful of students on the coalition’s work. Questions following the presentation revealed just how informed and prepared to advocate Period.UGA is!

IMG_8683Additionally, these vibrant young women are proving themselves as leaders in the movement to eradicate period poverty. Through on-campus collections and distribution locally to those experiencing homelessness, they work to find new ways to share the message of menstrual equity.

Period.UGA’s recent National Period Day event was brilliantly planned to take advantage of traffic on campus for the Georgia Bulldog’s homecoming game. Georgia STOMP is better due to the work, voice and energy of these coalition partners!

 

 

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DOE Money FINALLY Distributed!

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With the 2019 legislative allocation of $1M for provision of feminine hygiene products in schools, the Georgia Department of Education (DOE) created a distribution formula that satisfied the intention of elected officials to begin addressing the issue of period poverty faced by Georgia students. In August, this formula was approved by the State Board of Education and the expectation was that the money would begin flowing. However, shortly after the State BOE approval of fund distribution, Governor Kemp announced his expectation that all state agencies cut spending by 4% in the 2019-2020 budget. Kemp’s announcement meant DOE had to hold the new funding while determining what the 4% cuts meant for allocations.

During the interim, while distribution was being finalized, Georgia STOMP worked with DOE to develop language and information that would be sent “with the money” when distribution did occur. We are thrilled to announce that on Wednesday, November 30th an email was sent to all Georgia Superintendents relating how much money was allocated for their district and explaining the intended purpose of the money and best methods for distribution, a document we were happy to see contained Georgia STOMP’s “voice.”

Attached is the FY20 Feminine Hygiene Grant Direct Certification for the funding. Many will notice the amounts in this document are different than the August document posted here. There are two reasons for this — first, this spreadsheet reflects the 4% cut in the $1M allocation, and second, the August document erroneously calculated funding based on all students in a system vs allocating based on the number of low income students in a school system.

Please use this information to contact your school leadership in order to fast-track the conversion of this money into period products placed in the hands of students who need them! If you have any questions about the distribution or can give us feedback about the implementation in your school system, please contact us at georgiastomp@gmail.com!