AUSTIN (KXAN) — Free menstrual products are now offered at some Austin city facilities, a city memo said Friday.
Tampons and pads are available at some public libraries, Austin Public Health facilities and recreation centers.
In May, Austin City Council approved a measure to put free menstrual products in some city facilities and prioritize funding for them in the 2022-23 city budget. The city facilities include:
- City-owned showers and bathrooms accessible to people experiencing homelessness
- Austin Public Health facilities that serve the public, including neighborhood centers and sexual health clinics
- All Austin Public Library facilities
- All city-owned community recreation centers and summer camps.
The memo from Austin Public Health’s director, Adrienne Sturrup, provided updates on the availability of menstrual products at several city facilities.
The city is piloting the menstrual product program at four city libraries, with plans to expand to all 23 locations. The memo said installing the dispensers will “take considerable time,” and Austin Public Library can purchase baskets to hold products as a temporary measure.
Wall dispensers and one year of products are estimated to cost over $53,000 in fiscal year 2022-23. Supplies are estimated to cost about $30,000 for the following years.
Austin Public Health facilities
Austin Public Health supplies products at Neighborhood Centers, Sexual Health clinics, WIC clinics, the Maternal Infant Outreach Program, Family Connects, and Austin Healthy Adolescent and Community Youth Development programs.
The memo said APH has enough products for the rest of fiscal year 2022 but will need $20,000 in funding to continue the program in the next fiscal year.
Parks and recreation facilities
The parks and recreation department has menstrual products available at 18 locations. Rather than installing dispensers in restrooms, the memo said guests would need to request products at the front desk. Restroom signs will direct customers to ask for the “yellow folder,” which is the keyword to provide customers with a packet of menstrual products to take to the restroom with them.
The pilot program at 18 facilities is funded in the fiscal year 2022 budget, but it will cost about $17,550 to stock facilities in future years.
Downtown public restrooms
The city’s downtown public restroom initiative includes three stand-alone bathrooms on Trinity Street, Brazos Street and East Sixth Street. The memo said the city agencies who manage and operate the bathrooms are evaluating “the most effective and efficient method to distribute these products while addressing ongoing operational issues, such as vandalism and hoarding.”
The memo said the agencies are looking for durable, battery-powered, multi-product dispensers for the bathroom units, but supply chain delays are impacting their availability.