DOE Money FINALLY Distributed!

Unknown

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!

Guest Post from Mara Davis: On A Mission

My choice to align with period poverty issues started by wanting to find a way to bring women of different political views together.  A few years ago I went to a happy hour where everyone was on the same side politically.  The idea of the party was a meeting of the minds, but we were all like minded people.  To me this seemed kind of narrow.  Just because we don’t have the same views doesn’t mean we can’t be friends.  As we all talked it hit me, every single woman can relate to getting a period.  The good, the bad and the ugly.  From there I was on a mission.
I found the Homeless Period Project on Twitter.  One day I saw an article about girls missing school because they didn’t have access to products.  I retweeted it with a note saying how helpless I felt.  Then one of my followers turned me on to HPP.  I went to their site immediately, watched the video, cried and then reached out to the founder, Sharron Champion.  I couldn’t believe this was happening and it broke my heart.  She explained the mission and encouraged me to have a period party.  I did soon after and posted a photo of it on instagram.  Women all over Atlanta and beyond started to ask how to help. It was incredible.  Sharron warned me that once I started dropping off the product at schools I’d become addicted to helping girls.  She was right.  In between working I always find a way to move the cause further.  I was able to get the Indigo Girls involved in a benefit concert which was simply amazing.  Having their voice was a huge way to spread more awareness.  It was there I met Adele and Claire from Georgia STOMP and Jennifer Weiss Wolf.  Learning about what they do was a realization that this was bigger than just house parties. It’s a movement.
As time went on, more women wanted to volunteer with Homeless Period Project in Atlanta.  Enter Torrey Linder and Brittany Martin.  These two amazing women have taken the reins to make this an even bigger initiative.  It was because of them we were able to do the Stock The Schools event in September.  When I started with this cause I always had a dream of doing a giant period packing party at a brewery.  Sweetwater was kind enough to donate the space.  With the help of Torrey and Brittany we were off to the races.  I have become friendly with the nurses and teachers of East Hall County so we designated much of the product for them.  We had other groups involved that came to the event and they benefitted as well.  Because of being in media I was able to mention the event on The Bert Show which definitely brought more awareness.  In the end we raised about 2500 period packs.  Also, everyone there learned more about HB6, made period packs and left with new friends.
I’m thankful for Adele and Claire and the work they do trying to get legislation in order.  And it brings back to exactly why I wanted to get involved in the first place.  This is non partisan.  Women should not have to pay extra for something that happens to all of us once a month.  We can’t give up the fight and we won’t.  When women stand together, amazing things can happen.
Mara Davis is an Atlanta radio personality.  
Hear her on WABE ATL’s NPR, The Bert Show & Atlanta Eats

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Girl Scouts and Georgia STOMP – Badges Galore!

Over the summer, Claire Cox and Adele Stewart were lucky to meet the girls of Metter Girl Scout Troop #30083, and help them earn three new badges while discussing the pillars of Georgia STOMP’s work!

IMG_5031.JPG

The Brownies worked on Being a Philanthropist, and learned how to help people in need. The girls picked up quickly on how important it is to help one another in our communities, and how difficult life can be when needs aren’t being met. We talked about how some people need period products, and when they don’t have those products, how challenging going to school and staying at school might be. They also packed period packs to donate to the local schools so that girls in their community could focus on getting an education.

IMG_5030.JPG

The Juniors learned about Inside Government, and explored complex concepts about what it means to be a citizen, and how we all can be engaged citizens. They discussed different levels of government, and learned  how a bill is passed! After the training, they were able to contact their local State Senator and Representative about what they learned, and why they thought menstrual products 1) shouldn’t be taxes, and 2) should be freely available in schools.

IMG_5029.JPG

The Cadettes learned about Finding Common Ground, and used potato chip flavor preferences to understand the idea of compromise when many people have different opinions. While BBQ was the unifying potato chip flavor, the girls also explored more difficult concepts of why people may or may not think that menstrual products should be taxed, or freely available in schools. They also contacted their State Senators and Representatives, using emails as well as postcards.

IMG_5026.jpg

Georgia STOMP was honored to be able to make the trip to Metter and meet these young advocates. If your Girl Scout Troop is interested in earning these badges with our coalition, please contact us at GeorgiaSTOMP@gmail.com.

Gwinnett & North Fulton County Junior League Town Hall

IMG_6914.JPG

Rep. Brenda Lopez Romero, Rep. Sam Park and Claire Cox

The Junior League of Gwinnett and North Fulton County (JLGNF) is preparing itself for the upcoming legislative session! In a Town Hall Tuesday night, Georgia STOMP representative, Claire Cox, gave an update on the coalition’s work towards menstrual equity and elimination of period poverty in Georgia.

League members were fully engaged in the conversation, expressing gratitude for progress to date, and pledging to participate in efforts to pass HB8 in the 2020 session. Additionally, questions and discussion centered on assuring existing funding for school girls remains in next year’s state budget, and making sure girls in Juvenile Justice facilities have adequate supplies.

Following Georgia STOMP’s presentation, SPAC Delegate Regina Matthews posed questions to two Representatives from Districts where JLGNF members reside. After a question about HB8, Rep. Sam Park and Rep. Brenda Lopez Romero brought updates on other legislative matters including maternal mortality, sex trafficking, the economic effects of the Governor’s mandated budget cuts, healthcare and medicaid expansion.

Georgia STOMP is grateful to JLGNF, Regina Matthews, and League President Jennifer Wallace for the invitation to spread our message and for allotting valuable meeting time for this purpose.

If your group is interested in a presentation, get in touch soon!

Together, let’s get ready for the 2020 Session!

IMG_2440.JPG

Gwinnett and North Fulton County Junior League members with Rep. Sam Park, Sen. P. K. Martin and Claire Cox

 

Always Names Macon Periods Easier a “Period Hero”

53551231_2472096099531685_1805004867077406720_o

In a celebratory press conference Thursday, Georgia STOMP coalition member, Macon Periods Easier announced “Macon is one of five cities nationwide – and the only one in Georgia – that will be receiving national help to address lack of menstrual supplies and fight period poverty. The work of Macon Periods Easier (MPE) has drawn the attention of Always, a global menstrual care brand, which is donating 35,000 feminine care pads to the organization that it calls one of the “Period Heroes” leading efforts to end period poverty for school-aged girls in their communities.”

Macon Periods Easier now distributes products in every Bibb County public school, as well as to recreation centers and the local health department.

Nationally recognized Superintendent of Bibb County School District, Dr. Curtis Jones, was present to acknowledge the importance of this work and supplying menstrual products in school.

IMG_2603

2019 National School Superintendent of the Year Dr. Curtis Jones

Speaking of his numerous years involved in public schools, including 10 years as a Superintendent, Jones said, “the best way for students to be successful is to be in school and one of my jobs is to get all the barriers out of the way.”  In speaking of Bibb County’s effort to increase its graduation rate to 90% by 2025, he continued, “this effort is one of the additional partnerships that we have that I think will make us be successful” and to the young women present in the audience at the press conference, he turned and said, “You don’t have to stay home. We have support for you.”

Congratulations to Macon Periods Easier for a highly successful year! Georgia STOMP is proud to work with coalition members who demonstrate menstrual products provided in schools DO make a difference in the ability for young women to learn and be valuable, productive members of their communities.

Extra extra, read all about it!

Opponents of Ga. ‘tampon tax’ vow to press lawmakers in 2020

When tweeting out a link to the Georgia Recorder’s coverage of #HB8 and the money allocated to the Georgia DOE and DPH, author Jill Nolin (Twitter: @jillnolin) noted that, “The $1.5 million in the state budget for menstrual products could see a trim. Advocates are urging the state’s budget writers to not just leave the funds alone but to also come back next year and rethink the sales tax on these products.”

We are grateful for the coverage, not only to some of Georgia STOMP’s pillars of work, but of member organizations like Macon Periods Easier! Check out the link at the top for a great read.feminine-hygiene-products_Macon-school.jpg

Update from National Congressional Leader in Menstrual Equity: Congresswoman Grace Meng (New York)

The Georgia STOMP coalition recently received this update from the office of Congresswoman Grace Meng – Queens, New York.

For Immediate Release: August 27, 2019

MENG SECURES PROVISIONS TO IMPROVE ACCESS TO MENSTRUAL HYGIENE PRODUCTS

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), who has championed menstrual equity issues in Congress, announced today that she has secured even more provisions to make menstrual hygiene products more accessible to women and girls. These measures were included across several fiscal year 2020 spending packages that recently passed the House of Representatives. They consist of the following items:

  • Instructing the director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to provide guidance on the agency’s distribution of menstrual hygiene products to incarcerated women. While the BOP is required by law to provide free menstrual products to prisoners, there remains serious concerns on the continued inconsistency and inaccessibility of these products for all prisoners in BOP custody. Furthermore, in response to reports of pervasive and demeaning methods of product distribution, each prisoner would now determine for themselves what is of sufficient quantity – therein, empowering prisoners. The measure also ensures that nobody is prohibited from visiting an incarcerated individual due to the visitor’s use of menstrual hygiene products. Lastly, this provision puts in place reporting requirements to ensure oversight of full implementation of this policy.
  • Directing the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) to ensure free menstrual hygiene products are made available in public female, unisex, and family restrooms in all VA facilities. There are concerns that not all VA facilities have committed to their own VHA directive with regards to these products and their accessibility. The provision also includes a reporting requirement on the full distribution and implementation.
  • Directing the Office on Women’s Health within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to commission a study on the usage of, type, preferences, and  frequency in changing different menstrual hygiene products by race and socioeconomic status. The study would help provide accurate and reliable data on the usage of – and preferences for – different types of menstrual hygiene products. Presently, this type of comprehensive data does not exist.
  • Directing the Administrator of U.S. Aid for International Development (USAID) to issue an updated report on how its Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) programs ensure the availability of menstrual hygiene products. The goal of WASH programs is to promote global public health through access to clean water, sufficient sanitation, and proper hygiene, and providing safe menstrual hygiene products to women and girls abroad must be a key component of these initiatives. The report would also include recommendations on how USAID could improve its management of investments in this area.

In addition to the above items, Meng is continuing to push the Menstrual Equity for All Act, a bill she introduced earlier this year that is the first comprehensive measure to address the different challenges that women and girls face in affording and accessing menstrual hygiene products. The Congresswoman is also sponsoring the Menstrual Products Right to Know Act which would require companies to list the ingredients in menstrual hygiene products; the Menstrual Hygiene Products in Federal Buildings Act which would require menstrual items to be available in U.S. government buildings; and a resolution to recognize Menstrual Hygiene Day. In addition, she recently testified about her legislative efforts before two House committees.

“Access to safe, affordable menstrual hygiene products is a basic need and a health care right for over half the population,” said Meng. “It is a human right, which is why I will do everything I can to ensure these items are accessible to all who need them. One’s dignity cannot be comprised or diminished for these life essential items. It has been a privilege to lead the menstrual equity fight in Congress, and I will remain fiercely committed to this effort until every woman and girl has access to these necessary products.”

Meng’s provisions were included in several different appropriations bills including Labor, Health and Human Services and Education; State and Foreign Operations; Commerce, Justice, Science; and Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies.

Contact Information for Meng’s office: Jordan Goldes, 718-445-7861