Boston to offer free menstrual products at 6 libraries — with plans to expand

Boston is moving to make tampons and menstrual pads available in the bathrooms at some of the city's public libraries. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
Boston is moving to make tampons and menstrual pads available in the bathrooms at some of the city's public libraries. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

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I regret to inform you it’s officially pumpkin spice latte season at Dunkin’. Please, see if you can hold off until at least Labor Day.

To the news:

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu’s administration is on a mission to de-stigmatize periods, and they’re starting in the bathrooms at some of the city’s libraries. The Office of Women’s Advancement recently launched an initiative offering free menstrual pads and tampons in bathroom dispensers at six Boston Public Library branches: Brighton, Codman Square, East Boston, North End, Mattapan and Roxbury.

  • What the city is saying: Alexandra Valdez, the director of the Office of Women’s Advancement, told WBUR’s Amy Sokolow the goal is to make menstrual products a normal part of everyday life. “The same way that we see toilet paper, the same way that we see hand sanitizers everywhere, we should be thinking around the same way how we see menstrual products in our own cities,” she said.
  • What’s next: The program is starting with dispensers in the female, male and gender-neutral restrooms at each of the initial library branches. Valdez says they want to expand to not only all 26 of the BPL’s locations, but also other city-owned buildings like BCYF community centers, if they can get more funding.
  • Learn more: Boston is pairing the new dispensers with monthly informational workshops at each of the participating BPL branches (you can see the schedule here). Valdez says topics range from the “importance of menstrual equity” to open Q&A sessions for people menstruating for the first time.
  • Over the border: The neighboring town of Brookline became the first municipality in the U.S. in 2019 to offer free tampons and pads in all of its town-owned restrooms.
  • Zoom out: One in five American teens reportedly struggle to afford menstrual products, often referred to as experiencing “period poverty.” Listen to this Here & Now segment on why the overlooked issue has persisted.

Massachusetts health officials are reaching out to roughly 134,000 residents whose medical and financial information may have been compromised by a data breach. Officials say the breach was part of a “worldwide data security incident” involving a file-transfer software program used by the UMass Chan Medical School.

COVID-19 may be on a bit of an upswing, but with back-to-school season around the corner, health officials in Boston have their eye on a different virus: the flu. The Boston Public Health Commission is urging families to get their flu shots in September and October, especially after flu season hit so hard last fall.

  • The BPHC also said the recent COVID uptick is “not cause for immediate concern,” but recommended everyone over the age of six months be up to date on their COVID vaccinations, too. Experts generally say it’s best to wait for the reformulated booster this fall.

Allston residents’ next food delivery could arrive via e-bike: In an effort to reduce traffic and greenhouse gas emissions, Wu’s office is partnering with local businesses in the neighborhood to send out their deliveries by couriers on electric bikes as part of a yearlong pilot.

  • The deets: “Boston Delivers” will launch in mid-September. The city is paying $345,00 to subsidize the costs for up to eight local businesses or nonprofits, which means you could get free delivery for your eats, too.
  • Who’s involved: Wu’s office says some participants have already been picked, like the Allston-Brighton CSA and the Korean fusion restaurant OliToki. But they’re hoping more will sign up. The city plans to have a full list of participants on its website.

P.S.— It is Post Malone like you’ve never heard him before. The affable hip-hop star — aka Austin Richard Post — swung by NPR’s Tiny Desk this week to sing a few unique renditions of some of the biggest pop hits of the 21st century. It’s really cool. Watch and listen here.


Nik DeCosta-Klipa Newsletter Editor
Nik DeCosta-Klipa is the newsletter editor for WBUR.



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