By Kelly Youngblood
The Champaign Urbana Public Health District made it easy for local moms to donate excess breast milk with the opening of a milk depot in 2014.
Now, they’ve made it simple for those seeking donor breast milk with the opening of a milk dispensary.
CUPHD opened a milk dispensary in April 2020, providing families with infants and children the opportunity to purchase pasteurized donor milk locally.
Valerie Koress, a breastfeeding coordinator at CUPHD, says the milk is for families who would prefer to use screened, pasteurized donor human milk instead of cow’s milk-based formula when their health care provider recommends supplementation.
“Pasteurized donor human milk provides numerous benefits in the absence of the mother’s milk, including infection-fighting factors, active growth and development hormones, improved digestion and ideal nutrition,” said Koress.
The milk dispensary at CUPHD is available as a walk-in service, and can distribute up to 10 bottles of pasteurized donor human milk without a doctor’s prescription. The milk is supplied by the Mother’s Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes.
CUPHD receives about three to five donations per month from the Mother’s Milk Bank, ranging from 100 to 1,000 ounces per donation.
Koress said the milk dispensary was slow to gain momentum as it opened near the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, but has seen a significant increase in use over the past six months.
Kathleen Winters can personally attest to the importance of the milk dispensary for her family.
Winters relied on donor breast milk from the dispensary earlier this year after the birth of her son, Oliver. Oliver had a few concerning blood sugar readings after he was born so Winters, a WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselor for the CUPHD, decided to purchase donor milk while waiting for her milk volume to increase.