Project Woman prepares for, adapts to looming personal care products shortage

The Project Woman Advocacy and Administrative Offices. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

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The Project Woman Advocacy and Administrative Offices. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Springfield shelves mostly stocked in feminine hygiene products; sparse with formula.

Leaders of Springfield’s domestic violence shelter are expecting to be negatively impacted by the national shortage of feminine hygiene products and are continuing to reel from the baby formula shortage.

Tampon makers nationally have told media outlets the recent shortage stems from the rise in costs of materials, transportation complications for shipping and factory staffing issues. Springfield grocery stores, pharmacies and dollar stores were mostly stocked with tampons and almost fully stocked with pads on Monday.

Project Woman typically depends on private donations for its supply of personal care products, executive director Laura Baxter said.

“As soon as community donors start to feel the shortage, our donations will lessen as well,” Baxter said. “Any related shortages, such as infant formula, create an additional worry for those experiencing domestic violence.”

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The shelter offers services in both Clark and Champaign counties and is currently exceeding capacity, utilizing all of its congregate shelter and its other off-site safe options, Baxter said. Project Woman’s supply of feminine hygiene products helps between 40 and 50 menstruating people per month: this can include adults seeking shelter and their children who accompany them and use menstrual products.

In its advocacy office and business offices, a communal basket is filled with feminine supplies. Baxter said Project Woman “makes it a point” to have the supply openly accessible.

A frequent story of survivors that shelter workers hear includes experiences of feminine supplies being “doled out” to the survivors, Baxter said. One partner constricts a supply of personal care products – tampons, pads, and even diapers for infants – and requires their partner to request access to the household supply: a request that is often followed by criticism.

“It’s a common line in the story: you have to seek permission to get another one, be accountable for how many you used that day,” Baxter said. “Then they hear ‘Why did you use that many today? Can’t you get by with less?’ as a part of that story of coercion.”

Area shelves of baby formula continue to be sparse as the national formula shortage persisted Monday.

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The shelter had no supply of infant formula on its shelves as of last week. Baxter said the shelter wasn’t immediately impacted by the infant formula shortage, but has not received donations of formula products since the start of the shortage and has not been able to acquire cans on its own.

The shelter has been using partnerships with people who commonly donate items to help connect parents in need with formula to places that have it in stock and has also helped women apply for supplemental nutrition programming like WIC.

“It takes a little bit of leg work,” Baxter said. “We cannot stress enough the impact that current economic downturns and shortages will have on our efforts in supporting survivors and their families.”

Project Woman accepts donations of new packages of pads, tampons and menstrual cups, as well as formula. The shelter asks that those interested in donating supplies call the shelter to set up an appointment.


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