Vending Machines Now Offer Snickers And Tampons


Isabel Shaw, Staff Writer

On Nov. 3, Women in Learning and Leadership (WILL) and The Innovation Network (TIN) joined forces to distribute baskets filled with free, donated menstrual products throughout Brookdale’s campus.  

The clubs had hoped their initiative would be continued through the administration going forward, but that won’t be the case. The administration addressed the access issue by making tampons available in vending machines in public areas across campus.

“Tampons” began showing up in a generic white box in vending machines stocked with snacks on Tuesday, Nov. 8, at a cost of $1.50.

“Free products will continue to be available through the volunteer efforts of Helping Hands,” President David Stout wrote in an email Sunday, Nov. 6, discussing the new vending machine products.

Using a poster with a QR code, WILL also posted a three-question survey near the products distributed last Thursday and immediately drew several comments. 

“When I started seeing the responses coming in, I got chills!” said Sara Hosbach, a liberal arts major and president of WILL. “Seeing these written answers reminds me of the importance of this project.” 

One student shared how, as a first-year student, she urgently needed a pad and did not know where to go and could find no one to help her.  

“I’m ecstatic to see them freely available, knowing that if I’m ever in that situation again, there’s easy access for those needs,” she said.  

Another responder wrote, “It makes me feel more secure, and less anxious about having a period accident, especially when on campus for hours at a time.” 

Distributing the products to restrooms and common areas are part of a larger initiative the clubs started last semester to bring attention to the needs of students who otherwise might not have access to these items.  

Discussed at Brookdale’s Board of Trustees in February, students were told funds are available to make some products available to students. After the meeting, students hoped to begin finding the products regularly stocked in restrooms.  

When the products did not appear, the clubs reached out to the administration in spring and learned the menstrual products were sent to Helping Hands and would not be distributed in restrooms. Helping Hands is a basic needs pantry located in MAN 214; its operating hours are Mondays, 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 3 to 5 p.m.; Tuesdays 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., and Thursdays 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 to 5 p.m.   

“WILL and TIN members feel like we were left out of the discussion about the initiative that we started,” said Jeanette Falotico, TIN’s president and a journalism major. “No announcements or publicity about this decision were shared with students.” 

“Helping Hands hours are limited, making this location inconvenient and inaccessible for urgent needs,” said Sara Hosbach, a liberal arts major and president of WILL. 

While the idea of placing the menstrual products with Helping Hands is one option, the WILL and TIN members expressed concerns that it is not suitable as the sole location.  

The clubs brought the lack of access to menstrual products up again at the Oct. 25 Board of Trustees meeting. After the meeting, Stout replied via email that he was working with his staff to determine how to address the issue going forward.  

“These products are a necessity and need to be in restrooms across the campus and/or at central, easily accessible locations,” Hosbach said. “Why is it so hard for Brookdale’s students and staff to have access to these products?” 

The need was echoed in the questionnaire responses WILL received. These included: 

“My periods always come whenever I have nothing. It’s the best feeling finding a tampon when you truly need it.”  

“Having these products available in the restroom means that Brookdale cares about its students, especially those that may not be able to afford expensive menstrual products.”  

“I have always felt that menstrual products should be made freely available for anyone who experiences periods. Knowing that there is access to free menstrual products helps me know that the college cares about the problems of others.”