When period poverty forces people to choose between food and health, Lotus Intervals is here to help.
Brenda Jonas, a resident of Greenwood, founded Lotus Intervals this year with the goal of providing a crucial but often overlooked necessity.
Lotus Intervals collects vintage products like pads, tampons and feminine hygiene products to assemble into kits. Jonas then places the kits in small pantries or blessing boxes around Greenwood and Fort Smith.
“It’s a basic human need that not everyone can afford,” Jonas said. “I just thought, ‘You know what? I can do it.'”
With inflation driving up prices and supply chains struggling to keep up with demand, many people are struggling to get by with basic necessities, including hygiene products like towels and pads.
More than one in five women said they could not afford menstrual hygiene products, according to a 2019 survey reported by Reuters.
Even if a household receives assistance, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) do not cover hygiene products such as sanitary napkins or diapers.
Pads and tampons could cost a woman nearly $2,000 over her lifetime, according to a 2015 HuffPost analysis, not to mention other costs like painkillers, heating pads and birth control.
Arkansas is one of 27 states that still tax pads and tampons, according to Period Equity. The organization estimates that states earn $120 million each year from the sale of vintage products.
A bill introduced in the Arkansas Legislature in 2020 sought to exempt feminine hygiene products from sales tax, but the bill was not withdrawn from committee.
Jonas was inspired by other difference makers she saw on social media and in the community, and she wanted to do something that would work with her busy schedule.
“There are so many inspiring people doing things,” Jonas said. “I’ve always wanted to do something. I work full time. I have children. I have grandchildren. I’m a very busy person… I thought this would be a really easy thing to do. I pulled out antennae… and the community was going all out, like, ‘Oh my god, yeah, that’s amazing.’ »
In the first week she dropped 50 bags into blessing boxes in Greenwood and eventually expanded to Fort Smith.
Using social media, Jonas has connected with like-minded community members, connecting those willing to donate and also helping households in need. She is working on setting up an in-person donation spot for people to drop off vintage goods for the kits.
“The lotus represents purity, enlightenment and self-regeneration…and of course an interval is like a little time in space, like a window in space,” Jonas said, describing the meaning of name.
How to support Lotus intervals
Jonas said the best way to get involved in volunteering or donating or if anyone needs a kit is to contact the Lotus Intervals Facebook page.
The Facebook page will also contain more information about an upcoming donation campaign.