Breast milk is proven to significantly improve childhood nutrition and development and decrease certain childhood infections. In addition, the inclusion of breast milk into a newborn’s diet can save millions in treatment costs for acute illness down the line. In October 2017, Jamaica Hospital Medical Center created its Volunteer Milk Depot, a branch of the nonprofit New York Milk Bank, to provide breast milk to newborns and increase breastfeeding among new mothers in the community.
Establishing volunteer human milk depots increases access to donors, raises awareness and helps lower operational costs of producing pasteurized donor human milk. When donor milk is affordable and accessible, more infants can benefit from it. Increasing breastfeeding is goal 2.2 under the New York state Prevention Agenda “Perinatal and Infant Health” priority area under the “Action Plan to Promote Healthy Women, Infants and Children.”
The JHMC Volunteer Milk Depot is strategically located in the community and consists of a temperature-controlled freezer to store human milk deposits. A volunteer staff manager oversees its operation and ensures that milk donations are shipped out to the “parent” milk bank as per its policies.
Volunteer milk depots are a bridge between the donor and the milk bank. They are designed to ease the donor drop-off process, reduce expenses incurred by the donor and help the milk bank reduce operational costs so that the pasteurized human milk they produce is more affordable and accessible.
During the first year of operation, the JHMC depot received milk deposits from 11 different donors. About 6,300 ounces of breast milk was donated. As of Oct. 11, 2019, there were 12 donors. Having the depot within the WIC program has been very beneficial and educational; the depot is located in the breastfeeding area.
For more information, contact Ivis L. Penalver, BA, IBCLC, WIC program assistant director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (718) 206-8607.