A Halifax-area independent pharmacy will soon be offering free feminine hygiene products to customers in need.
Cassidy Bellefontaine, the store manager at the Highfield Park Pharmachoice in Dartmouth, came up with the idea recently after reading comments on social media about the need for assistance.
“This product is a necessity. It’s not a ‘want’ and it’s something people can’t afford, so I think we’re all joining together to say, ‘Hey, we should all be able to have necessities,'” she said.
“There is no reason anyone should say, ‘I can’t afford this, I’m not going to have it this month.’ There are programs for people who can’t eat, so why not have a program for people who have a period as well?”
Bellefontaine spoke with the staff at the pharmacy and the store’s owner to come up with a plan.
Beginning Friday, customers can speak discreetly with a pharmacist to access the donation bin. There will be a selection of tampons and pads — and in the future, Bellefontaine is looking into offering reusable cups and reusable cotton pads.
To stock the donation bin, the store will be matching every purchase of feminine hygiene products with the same product.
Customers will also be able to make monetary donations at the checkout.
But for now — as the project takes off — everything will be out-of-pocket for the small business.
“We’ve only been open six months, so we’re taking a huge chance doing this,” she said. “It’s 100 per cent out-of-pocket.”
Bellefontaine says the response has been largely positive on Facebook, where the pharmacy posted details about the program. She says there were some disparaging comments about the socioeconomic status of customers in the area, however.
Regardless, she’s excited about the program and hopes other businesses will follow suit.
“The biggest goal right now is that people get what they need,” she said.
“The bigger picture, I want other pharmacies to say, ‘Hey, if they can do it, we can too.'”
Beyond that, she says she hopes one day the products will be free in general for women.
WATCH: Mount Saint Vincent University to offer free pads, tampons on campus (July 31, 2018)