reinvest period fall 2022

A donation box for the period product drive sits under a table in Righteous Remedies.

Reinvest in Conway is a local grassroots organization that advocates for social change. For the month of September, they have partnered with AR Period Poverty Project to supply the Conway community with essential menstruation products.

AR Period Poverty Project is an organization that aims to create menstruation equity throughout the state of Arkansas. Stephanie Gray, co-founder and lead organizer with Reinvest in Conway said that the two organizations partnered because their goals align. 

”We were in talks with the Arkansas Coalition for Reproductive Justice over the summer and they informed us of the awesome work of the Period Poverty Project,” Gray said. “Their mission really aligns with ours in terms of intersectionality, mutual aid and body autonomy.”

One of the main goals of Reinvest in Conway is to advocate for police reform. 

“As an abolitionist organization, we know police often target shoplifters who are just trying to meet basic needs like tampons,” Gray said. “If we can help in a small way, that decreases the likelihood of a dangerous encounter with police.”

Throughout September, the organizations will be taking donations at Righteous Remedies, Bell Urban Farm and the Faulkner County Library. The products needed are regular pads, overnight pads and tampons of all sizes. These products will be distributed to locations of need. 

“In terms of the donations, we are working to supply the high school and junior high school,” Gray said. “We are also going to give products to Rise House, our local domestic violence shelter. We also hope to place them in all of our local little pantries so more folks can access them.”

The goal of this partnership is to make essential menstrual products accessible to the community. Inaccessibility to these products is caused by a few reasons.

“There's a financial issue where not only are tampons and pads incredibly expensive — A year’s supply of tampons and pads ranges from $70-$120 — but there is also a luxury tax in Arkansas that makes them even more expensive. Items deemed ‘necessary’ are generally exempt from state sales taxes, but not menstrual products,” Gray said. “The second issue is social. Periods are often stigmatized and not discussed in certain households. This is particularly true for trans folks who menstruate. That shame can be a barrier for many and the poverty rate of those individuals often correlates.”

The collaboration of Reinvest in Conway and AR Period Project aims to minimize the gap between those who have access to period products and those who don't. 

“We are doing this to address the gap that exists for poor and working-class folks to get accessible menstrual products. There are so many that don't have the money to get enough products for a full cycle,” Gray said.

There are also many ways for people within the community to give back. Alongside donating at the three drop-off locations, Reinvest in Conway is taking donations on its Cashapp,  $reinvestinconway. The organization also encourages students to create similar movements. 

“It would be amazing if students did a similar drive on their campuses,” Gray said. “College students are at risk of not being able to afford menstrual products. Encouraging administrations to set up free product dispensers in all bathrooms would also be a great idea.”

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