Nearly 18 percent of women in New York age 18 and older live in poverty, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Most of them are women of color. Despite the high demand, the Food Bank was not receiving any donations of menstrual products. The few items the organization had, Ms. Purvis said, came from stores that had boxes they could not sell, sometimes because women in need had opened them to steal a handful of pads or tampons.

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