Nova Scotia

2 Dartmouth pharmacies offering free period products to customers in need

Beginning Friday, two Dartmouth, N.S., pharmacies are giving away free menstrual products to customers who need them, but can't afford them.

'These products are a necessity which many women, women on fixed incomes, may have problems trying to get'

David Chiasson is the owner of two pharmacies in Dartmouth offering the program. (Steve Lawrence/CBC)

Two pharmacies in Dartmouth, N.S., are answering the call to end period poverty by giving away free menstrual products to customers who need them.

Cassidy Bellefontaine is the manager of Highfield Park PharmaChoice in north-end Dartmouth. She said she was moved to do something after she read a story earlier this week about a small group of women pushing to get a $25 allowance for tampons, pads and other products for people on income assistance.

"As I was going through the comments, I'm like, 'There really is a need for this, like, what can we do?'" said Bellefontaine.

She then spoke with her staff and they brainstormed ideas. In under two days, the nine employees donated about 80 packages of product.

Getting free tampons and sanitary pads from the store is simple. Beginning Friday, all customers need to do is go to the pharmacy and tell the staff what they need.

This sign posted in the Highfield Park PharmaChoice in Dartmouth explains the program. (Steve Lawrence/CBC)

The City of Lakes PharmaChoice on Portland Street is also offering the program.

"We feel that … these products are a necessity which many women, women on fixed incomes, may have problems trying to get every month," said David Chiasson, who owns both pharmacies.

The stores are also accepting donations of cash and products from the public to help provide this service.

Matching program

For customers purchasing products to donate toward the service, the stores will match that purchase.

PharmaChoice's Facebook post about the program has over 100,000 views.

Cassidy Bellefontaine was inspired to start the program after learning of efforts by a group of women working to get a $25 allowance for period products for people on income assistance. (Steve Lawrence/CBC)

When Dartmouth resident Theresa Babb read it, she said she was moved to tears. Her daughter, Laura Martin, died suddenly a year and a half ago. She was 37.

Martin, who lived in north-end Dartmouth for the last two years of her life, had fallen on hard times due to mental-health issues and ended up on income assistance, said Babb.

"It was hard on Laura. And so … things like feminine-hygiene products, like tampons and pads … even the cups, you know, can be very, very expensive and that just put an extra toll on what it was that Laura couldn't afford," she said.

Dartmouth residents Theresa and Franklin Babb are shown in this photo with their daughter, Laura Martin. Before she died in 2017, Martin struggled with poverty and mental-health difficulties. (Theresa Babb)

Babb said it's important to show kindness to those in need.

"I'm getting teary eyed right now because, you know, it's always been my belief that we are all here to support and help each other," she said.