As parents around the country struggle to find baby formula on depleted grocery store shelves, Arvada community members and organizations are pitching in to help out. To address the shortage, …
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As parents around the country struggle to find baby formula on depleted grocery store shelves, Arvada community members and organizations are pitching in to help out. To address the shortage, Mothers’ Milk Bank — based in Arvada — partnered with Gov. Polis to provide free milk to families in need.
Polis’ executive order subsidizes the cost and shipping of donor milk for 30 days following May 25. Rebecca Heinrich, director of Mothers’ Milk Bank, said she anticipated the executive order being extended after the first deadline, as an end to the shortage still seems far off.
Heinrich added that while Mothers’ Milk Bank has primarily served hospitals and NICUs in the past, its approach has become multi-faceted in the wake of the shortage.
“When the Governor’s Office first reached out, we knew this would be a two-fold effort,” Heinrich said. “First, raise awareness of donations in the community so parents knew if they had excess milk, we absolutely have babies who need them. Eighty-five percent of the milk we pasteurize goes to hospitals and NICUs.
“With the formula shortage, we knew we had a specific ability to be the source here and try to help as best we could in a difficult situation,” Heinrich continued. “We’re very happy to offer subsidized milk for Colorado patients who need it. It’s a huge relief for parents.”
Heinrich confirmed that Mothers’ Milk Bank has enough milk to meet the current demand, which has seen outpatient recipients of milk increase astronomically.
“As of this week, we have a comfortable supply that allows us to serve all outpatients who come through the door,” Heinrich said. “We have milk available for any outpatients who are coming in at this point, which is a wonderful place to be. It’s nice to have a full freezer and be able to share this with the community at no cost to the family.
“Year over year we’re up 36% for outpatient recipients who are not hospitalized,” Heinrich continued. “That number is even bigger for June so far — we’re actually up 92% for the month of June, which we have to assume is directly related to the need in the community.”
Heinrich added that her staff has been able to weather the shortage by putting in a lot of extra effort, but that the team at Mothers’ Milk Bank is dedicated to the mission.
“A lot of overtime,” Heinrich said. “But everyone here is so dedicated to the mission and recognizes this particular crisis in the community that they’re working very hard to make sure this milk is available. I’m grateful to my whole team and the community for supporting us.”
Information on how to donate or purchase milk can be found at milkbankcolorado.org.
Mothers’ Milk Bank follows the strict guidelines set forth by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America. All donors are screened by staff members, undergo blood testing and must have their health care providers sign forms confirming their medical histories. The milk is pasteurized and tested prior to being dispensed.
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