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St. Louis County Library expands access to free tampons and pads

Flow Kits are pictured on Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2021, at the St. Louis County Library in Affton. The kits, sponsored by the St. Louis Alliance for Period Supplies, are available to the public and include menstrual supplies such as tampons and pads.
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
Since 2020, the St. Louis County Library has distributed more than 900 free kits of period supplies at five of its branches. In January, they'll be available at a sixth branch, Indian Trails in Vinita Park.

A successful partnership between the St. Louis County Library and the St. Louis Area Diaper Bank to distribute free tampons and pads is expanding next year to a sixth library branch.

The library began handing out period supplies at two branches in early 2020. Two more locations were added when the coronavirus pandemic hit and services moved curbside. A fifth branch became a distribution site in 2020. Starting in January, they’ll be available at the Indian Trails branch in Vinita Park.

The branch serves University City and the surrounding communities, said Kristen Sorth, the executive director of the St. Louis County Library, an area that the diaper bank had identified as lacking “easy access to diapers and period supplies.”

“We felt like the library was a perfect place, because we’re a center of community,” Sorth said.

Sorth said she is looking forward to more people being able to experience the “complete relief” of having access to pads and tampons.

People who do not have proper period supplies will often use items like T-shirts or socks, said Muriel Smith, the executive director of the Diaper Bank.

“That’s a health concern and really unsanitary,” she said. “The other thing is women and girls often miss work or school because they don’t have access to the supplies they need on a monthly basis. So they’re missing out on their education or their income.”

So far, the library has distributed 900 kits, each of which contains 20 pads and tampons. Residents who need the supplies can pick them up at the following branches:

  • Florissant Valley (195 New Florissant Rd. S)
  • Grand Glaize (1010 Meramec Station Rd.)
  • Indian Trails (8400 Delport Dr.)
  • Lewis and Clark (9909 Lewis-Clark Blvd.)
  • Natural Bridge (7606 Natural Bridge Rd.)
  • Weber Road (4444 Weber Rd.)

Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rlippmann

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.