Capitol Hill Buzz: Tampons, pads for free at shelters

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

WASHINGTON (AP) — Tampons and sanitary pads will soon be available for free to women and girls at homeless shelters.

Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., said Tuesday that she had convinced the Federal Emergency Management Agency to add feminine hygiene products to the list of key items that can be bought with grant money at shelters. Meng released a letter from FEMA Director W. Craig Fugate in which he said the national board of the Emergency Food and Shelter Program voted on Jan. 8 to make the items eligible. The change will become effective in April.

Shelters can spend grant money on items such as blankets, toilet paper, soap and toothpaste. Feminine hygiene products were not on the list. Meng complained to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson in January.

"I thank FEMA for agreeing to my request and for understanding how critical feminine hygiene products are to women," Meng said in a statement. "Homeless women and girls in shelters face serious hygiene and health issues when they do not have access to these essential items."

Meng has introduced legislation that would allow Americans to buy feminine hygiene products with money from flexible spending accounts.