North Liberty Community Pantry to show ‘Period. End of Sentence’ for Women’s Health Month

NLCP Presents: Period. End of Sentence

North Liberty Community Center — Wednesday, May 29 at 7 p.m.

Still from ‘Period. End of Sentence.’

Throughout the month of May, the North Liberty Community Pantry (NLCP) has been running a campaign for National Women’s Health Month, collecting menstrual products, diapers, adult absorbent products and monetary donations. Their goal is to raise $2,000 — approximately one dollar for every woman served by the pantry.

NLCP, located at 89 N Jones Blvd, serves rural communities in Johnson County, excluding Iowa City and Coralville. Clients can shop for food, toiletries, children’s clothing, laundry detergent and other necessities.

Several specialized campaigns run throughout the year, including school supplies and haircuts in the leadup to back-to-school season, coats at the beginning of the freezing Iowa winters and feminine hygiene products in May.

“We ask for a list of the needs people are hoping we can fulfill, and for the past three years feminine hygiene products have been at the top,” said Kaila Rome, executive director of NLCP. “Without fail, there’s always someone who says, ‘Thank god you have these today, I really needed these.’”

As a response to the families’ requests, the NLCP factored feminine hygiene products into its budget last year. The pantry is subject to the luxury tax placed on tampons, and finding local wholesalers to purchase from at a price point less than a dollar per box is a barrier.

It is an NLCP policy for family shopping to be un-monitored, so anybody, regardless of gender identity, can take advantage of any resource, including period products. “We say take whatever you need for your family,” said Rome.

On Wednesday, May 29 at 7 p.m., NLCP will be showing the documentary Period. End of Sentence at the North Liberty Community Center, located at 520 W Cherry St. Following the screening, a discussion about accessibility to feminine products and the tampon tax will be held. The event is free and open to the public.

Period. End of Sentence won the Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject in 2018 and shows the stories of women in a rural village outside of Delhi, India, who had never had access to pads. As a result, women and girls had serious health problems and were forced to forfeit their education. When a sanitary pad machine is built in the community, financially supported by a group of high school girls in California, they have the opportunity to manufacture and market their own products. The director of the film, Rayka Zehtabchi, is the first Iranian-American woman to win an Academy Award.

“The lengths they go to to make [menstrual] products … is really powerful, but it ties in really well with what’s happening here in this country,” said Rome. “We already have enough of all of these products here, and yet so many people don’t have access to them.”

When people don’t have ready access to menstrual products, they are forced to re-use them or stretch out their use as much as possible, said Rome. For girls, sacrificing an education, work life or athletic pursuit is a common result of a lack of access.

“People don’t open up about this,” said Rome. “But I know that there are stories out there … We’ve all been in a spot where we’ve been stuck without a tampon, but know we can go home and have [period products], or can go to Walgreens and pick them up. But not everybody can.”

Donations for the National Women’s Health Month campaign, both material and financial, will be taken at the documentary showing. Free childcare will be provided for those who must bring their children along with them to the screening. Monetary donations will also be accepted through the end of the month on the NLCP Facebook page and in person at the pantry.

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