CORONA — Hundreds of thousands of women and girls will have access to free pads and tampons thanks to a new bill that will be passed Tuesday by the City Council.
The bill is an expansion on a proposal first introduced in September by Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, who brought free products to a high school in Corona through a partnership with a health care company.
Ferreras-Copeland — who said the program is "her baby" — said the passage is a testament to the "advocates, the administration and this council" and should begin within the next four months.
Dispensers will be installed in 800 schools, giving access to 300,000 students, and will cost an initial $3.7 million, she said. The annual cost after that will be $1.9 million.
Homeless shelters will provide pads and tampons at shelters serving around 23,000 women and girls, at a cost of more than half a million dollars in the first year.
City jails, which already provide a limited number of products, will eliminate a cap on how many women can use, she added. They will also, for the first time, offer tampons in addition to pads to inmates.
After-school programs and food pantries will also be able to submit feminine products as part of their budget expenditures, which they weren't able to before, Ferreras-Copeland said.
During a roundtable discussion last June, the councilwoman met with food pantry operators discussed how in-demand pads and tampons were at their centers.
"People told me, 'when I have feminine hygiene products on the shelves, they will fly off before the food,'" they told her.
It showed how necessary they were for thousands of residents across the city, and how necessary this new law is.
"I just love that we're able to do this for the women in New York City, for young girls to know that they're valued and important," she said.
"They don't need to worry about what their bodies naturally do being a hindrance to their every day."