Home Events + News NJ Law Now Requires Schools to Provide Free Menstrual Products to Students

NJ Law Now Requires Schools to Provide Free Menstrual Products to Students

by Danielle Farina
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The term “period poverty” might not be commonplace in some communities but limited access to menstrual supplies affects millions of people on a daily basis. As of this week, New Jersey is taking strides to combat that issue — with the help of Jersey City-based, grassroots organization The Flow Initiative — passing a statewide mandate that requires public schools to provide free menstrual health products in grades 6-12. The mandate, coined Bill A1349, also requires schools to cover the costs of said period products, and Governor Murphy officially signed the bill into law on August 23, 2023. Read on for what we know about Bill A1349 and what this bill means for public school students in grades six through twelve, who will now have access to free period supplies. 

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What to Know

The bill’s passing was formally announced Wednesday, August 23rd, when Gov. Murphy officially signed it into law. Per a press release from BCW Global, Bill A1349 “mandates public schools to provide free menstrual health products to students in grades 6 through 12 and requires the state to pay costs.” The press release went on to share that the move signals “the state’s commitment to address rising rates of period poverty which is the lack of access to menstrual health products.”

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Although period poverty is a relatively new issue in some communities, “lack of access to menstrual health products has been an ongoing issue in New Jersey. The Flow Initiative’s State of The Flow Survey found that 52% of students have had a menstrual accident because they did not have access to menstrual health products.” Additionally, the press release shared that “74% of students said that they would benefit from access to free menstrual health products outside of school.”

Bill A1349 didn’t turn up out of nowhere — instead, it’s the culmination of hard work from The Flow Initiative, a grassroots organization focused on ending period poverty for women and non-binary people who menstruate. Alongside its partners (National Council of Jewish Women, Essex County Section, Hospeco, The Community Food Bank of New Jersey, the League of Women Voters, Girls Helping Girls. Period., and students from North Star Academy in Newark) The Flow Initiative testified at the New Jersey State Assembly’s Women and Children Committee in June 2022. The result? The “Assembly voted unanimously to pass the bill.”

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In regards to Bill A1349’s passing,  Eiko La Boria, founder of The Flow Initiative, said: “For decades, period poverty has prevented women, girls, and menstruating people from achieving dignified menstruation. They have missed school, work, and professional development opportunities from not having access to menstrual health products. Today, we chart a new course in New Jersey, and I hope others will follow our lead to end period poverty nationwide.”

Partner at The Flow Initiative, Sabrina Browne, also added: “The passing of Bill A1349 is a testament to government leaders and grassroots organizations coming together to accelerate real change in the menstrual health movement.” She also shared in the press release, “Period poverty impacts everyone who menstruates, and it is exacerbated by the fact that menstrual health products are typically not publicly funded in budgets for schools…”

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About The Flow Initiative

The stats surrounding period poverty and access to supplies were striking to Jersey City resident Eiko La Boria, prompting her into action and to found The Flow Initiative.

Just in Jersey City, 90% of menstruating bodies have a need for supplies while in school, 76% have had an accident, and 20% have missed school completely. Upon learning this, Eiko made it her mission to get these products in the hands of those in need while also erasing the stigma and shame often associated with periods.

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Over the years, she has advocated for menstrual equity in the city and county at large while creating an access plan to start getting period product dispensaries and opening emergency period product distribution centers throughout the city. Her work is necessary for the community, and she hopes to take this mission nationwide. At the very least, Eiko has already proven she bring the issue to statewide attention.

For the past three years, The Hoboken Girl has worked with The Flow Initiative to collect period products for those in need. We plan to do it again this fall, and to beat last year’s number of 30,000 products collected. Keep an eye out for updates by following @thehobokengirl on Instagram + TikTok. Be sure to follow The Flow Initiative socials to stay in-the-know on the latest in menstrual health news and legislature.

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