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Free menstrual product dispensers are now in 72 Hamilton County-owned bathrooms

A period product dispenser sits on a wall in a bathroom in the Hamilton County Government Center.
Bill Rinehart
The dispensers are touchless. A wave of the hand in front of the sensor will trigger the machine to release a pad or a tampon.

Several Hamilton County buildings now have dispensers with free period products in women’s and gender-neutral bathrooms.

County Commissioner Denise Driehaus says the idea came from the Commission on Women and Girls. She says it was the young women who pushed for it, saying they didn't have access to menstrual products in school.

“They didn’t feel that they should have to go to the nurse’s office to get period products, as if they’ve got some kind of medical condition,” she says. “Nor do they want to go to a locker that’s specified for period products, because of the stigma and some of what that looked like.”

Commissioners say period products are a necessity, and access to free products helps address poverty issues.

Women and Girls Commission member Lucrecer Braxton says it also addresses gender inequality. “This happens to girls every month. We don’t necessarily get a choice to just turn it off. We’d like to turn it off. But we don’t get to,” she says. “So we need to remove the stigma of pads and tampons, and they should be more commonplace, just like toilet paper is, and soap.”

Hamilton County has installed 72 machines that dispense the free period products in county-owned bathrooms, and they hope to inspire others to do the same.

Mary Maune is the program coordinator for the Commission on Women and Girls. She says Mad Tree Brewing has already gotten on board. “They have installed these not only in their Alcove location but also in their Oakley location and have received really positive feedback from customers,” she says. “We want to encourage others to do that as well.”

The county spent $25,190 on 110 dispensers. Driehaus says they plan to expand the program to more places, including the county-owned stadiums.

Commissioners say there's no estimate on how much stocking the dispensers will cost a year, but they plan to count it just like they do toilet paper and soap.

The buildings included so far are:

  • Hamilton County Juvenile Court Youth Center at 2020 Auburn Avenue
  • Hamilton County Public Health Department at 250 William Howard Taft
  • Times-Star Building at 800 Broadway
  • Hamilton County Job and Family Services, Alms & Doepke building
  • Hamilton County Courthouse
  • Hamilton County Justice Center
  • Todd B. Portune Center for County Government
  • William Howard Taft Center
  • Hamilton County Communications Center (911 dispatch)
  • Sheriff patrol headquarters
  • Hamilton County Coroner’s Office and Crime Lab
Bill Rinehart started his radio career as a disc jockey in 1990. In 1994, he made the jump into journalism and has been reporting and delivering news on the radio ever since.