The old newspaper vending box has been remade, painted purple and decorated with pictures and words that proclaim its purpose to all who pass by. The phases of the moon, encircled by a wreath of flowers, painted in crisp black-and-white. A uterus. An assortment of period products, hearts and teardrops floating around a statement: “Menstrual hygiene is a human right.”
The contents of the box, called a period pantry, reflect this spirit. Inside is a neatly-sorted array of menstrual supplies, all free and available 24-7. Anyone can take what they need, no questions asked. So far, demand appears to be high: The box I visited, at 839 Albany Street in Schenectady’s Hamilton Hill neighborhood, was emptied out in just a week.