A back arrow

All Articles

Girl power. Period.

Girl power. Period.

Lauren Durham '22 November 16, 2021

A first-year student works as founder of a nonprofit to end period poverty on campus and in Dayton.

In 2018, Ryann Mescher, now a first-year student at UD, and her mother, April, were visiting their local grocery store when they noticed a woman at the checkout sorting her groceries from her feminine hygiene products.

The woman asked the cashier how much she had spent, and it was soon obvious to Mescher that the woman was having to decide between her food items and having enough money for her period products.

First-year UD student Ryann Mescher poses in front of the UD Chapel.
First-year UD student Ryann Mescher.

Months afterward, Mescher said she could not get the incident out of her head.

“We saw period poverty firsthand. I told my friends Zoe and Dana, and we knew we had to start something to solve this problem,” Ryann said.

The three friends, all students at nearby Oakwood High School, got together and started the Femme Aid Collaborative to fight period poverty in Dayton. Three years later, the young women are just beginning.

“[Period poverty] is a lot bigger problem in the Dayton community than a lot of people think. We didn’t even know how big of a problem it was,” said Ryann Mescher, first-year student at UD and founder of the Femme Aid Collaborative.

“[Period poverty] is a lot bigger problem in the Dayton community than a lot of people think.”

Mescher is majoring in sustainability with minors in geology and photography at UD, but in between her classes and student life, she is continuing to help run the nonprofit. Although the three founders are first-year students at different universities, Mescher says they are strongly committed to the cause.

“We are still very involved. We do as much as we can every month,” Ryann said.

Mescher has helped Femme Aid partner with local businesses and nonprofits to implement longstanding collection and distribution sites for menstrual products. A handful of businesses in Dayton’s Oregon District have served as collection sites, while nonprofits including Daybreak and the YWCA have distributed the products. 

This month the organization added a site on UD’s campus at the Brook Center at ArtStreet. Menstrual products can be donated in addition to food at the Food4Flyers Food Pantry. The donation site was created in an effort to reduce food insecurity in the UD community. 

“We don’t normally distribute to schools, but it was important to have it [at UD] because I go here,” Mescher said. “I think it’s really important for it to be integrated into universities because I knew it was a problem, but I didn’t know how big of a problem food insecurity, for example, is on campus.”

In October, the nonprofit won the Young Enterprise Award from the Women in Business Network of Dayton and Miami Valley. It also announced it had collected and delivered more than 1 million menstrual hygiene pieces to local charities in the Dayton area.

Mescher is determined to continue the momentum and involvement with the nonprofits. She said she hopes to remain an advocate for those struggling with period poverty — both here on campus and in the Dayton community. 

Be the change