Mothers’ Milk Bank sells breast milk amid formula shortage

The state is encouraging mothers to donate excess breast milk to Mothers’ Milk Bank. Others are encouraged to donate money to help families who can’t afford it.

ARVADA, Colo. — Families in need of food for their babies have a new alternative here in Colorado. The state is partnering with Mothers’ Milk Bank in Arvada to offer breast milk for families who can’t find formula on the shelves. 

Gov. Jared Polis announced the state’s partnership with the nonprofit, which is run through the Rocky Mountain Children’s Foundation. Together, they are calling on people to donate breast milk, and to make financial donations to offset the cost of each bottle.

Mothers’ Milk Bank processes up to 4,000 ounces of breast milk each day. The supply is donated by mothers who have excess milk.

Each donor goes through a screening process and blood work to ensure that they are eligible to donate. Donors must be healthy and not smoke. The milk they donate is required to be pumped within the last eight months. They also will not accept milk after the donor’s baby is past 18 months old. 

“Our mission is to make sure that babies have the best start in life and to help provide moms and families the resources that they need to feed their babies,” said Lenna Gregory, Donor Relations and Outreach Manager at Mothers’ Milk Bank.

Gregory said since the shortage began, they have received an increase in calls from people who would like to donate.

“I think it just shows how much our community has a heart for each other. Women and families have a heart for other families, and they don’t like to see babies in need,” Gregory said. 

The partnership is designed to highlight different options for parents who cannot find formula at the store. Baby formula producer Abbott announced it has reached a deal with the Food and Drug Administration to reopen its largest U.S. plant, but the estimate of six to eight weeks before new products begin arriving in stores is still too long for many families to wait.

“Some parents are facing the unthinkable reality of not being able to feed their children through no fault of their own, so Colorado is partnering on an option to address the formula supply issue,” Polis said. “It is critical that we use every option out there to make sure our infants do not go hungry. Moms who are able to donate breast milk should do so as a lifeline for those who can’t, and no matter how you feed your baby, a fed baby is the priority.”

The state said this is a safer alternative to other solutions such as diluting formula, which can be dangerous and life-threatening to babies and lead to serious nutritional deficit and health issues. Experts say it’s also best to avoid homemade formula, which often lacks critical nutrients.

If you would like to donate milk, you can find information at the Mothers’ Milk Bank website. If you would like to purchase milk, you are asked to order online or call ahead of time. You should not arrive in person at the milk bank if you would like to purchase. 

It is $18 per four-ounce bottle. The state’s request for donations will help offset those costs for families who cannot afford to purchase milk.

RELATED: How the formula shortage affects nonprofits that work with moms and babies

RELATED: Medical experts warn against homemade baby formula

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