As Communication Coordinator Laene Keith says, “Milk donation is best defined as a gift of human kindness.” Winn-Dixie has supported Mothers’ Milk Bank of Florida through its Community Bag Program and Bloomin’ 4 Good Program.
Tell us about Mothers’ Milk Bank of Florida.
Mothers’ Milk Bank of Florida is a nonprofit donor human milk bank which collects, processes and distributes single ingredient human milk for medically complex and fragile babies in Florida. Mothers’ Milk Bank of Florida is dedicated to the mission of providing optimal nourishment for recipient babies when mothers’ own milk is unavailable. As one of 31 member banks in the United States accredited by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America, it is the first and only nonprofit community milk bank in Florida.
What services do you provide to the community?
Mothers’ Milk Bank of Florida supplies donor human milk to medically complex babies receiving care in neonatal intensive care units (NICU) and whose own mothers’ milk may be unavailable. Babies in such settings are prescribed pasteurized donor human milk so they may be nourished and grow until they can go home with their families.
We also help a small percentage of babies through our Babies At Home program: babies who may be home from the hospital but are perhaps gaining weight sub-optimally while receiving care from medical providers. In these instances, donor human milk may serve as a key source of nourishment and hydration for their optimal development.
Please tell us a story that illustrates your organization’s good work.
Our donor mothers give of their heart when they donate the extra milk they have collected, kept frozen and transport to Mothers’ Milk Bank of Florida. Mothers with extra breast milk are nourishing their own baby foremost and decide to give to babies in need. When donors choose to give, Mothers’ Milk Bank of Florida is in turn able to advance our mission of providing pasteurized donor human milk to our hospital and community partners throughout Florida. Milk donation is best defined as a gift of human kindness.
Our donor mothers give of their heart when they donate the extra milk they have collected, kept frozen and transport to Mothers’ Milk Bank of Florida.
What is your most outstanding achievement or contribution to the community?
There have been many contributions and achievements along our journey, serving as a steady resource for families and especially so amidst the infant formula shortage in the United States. While donor human milk is not intended to be a one-to-one substitute for infant formula found on store shelves, the lack of availability of specialty infant formulas resulted in families becoming highly concerned about a safe way to feed their baby who may require such nutrition. We received triple the number of telephone calls per day from mothers asking how they could help ensure babies could be nourished with human milk if specialty formula was not available. The outpouring of support and generosity from families across Florida was inspiring, and it is an honor to serve our community in this manner.
What do you want people to know about Mothers’ Milk Bank of Florida?
Human milk is complete with antibodies for little bodies. When babies are born weeks before their due date, they may have complications which may result in the need for specialized medical care. Donor human milk is available to give such vulnerable babies a strong foundation to go home with their families as quickly as possible. We are grateful for our donors who give their human milk so other babies can grow and thrive.
How will you use the funds raised from the Community Bag and Bloomin’ 4 Good Programs?
We are so grateful to know a portion of each purchase of a floral bouquet or community bag is donated to the Mothers’ Milk Bank. These contributions directly support our Babies At Home program, which allow an even greater number of medically complex babies to receive donor human milk.
Is there anything you would like to add?
As long as babies are being born, we will need to replenish our supply of donor human milk to babies across Florida. Women with more milk than their babies may need are invited to please visit our website, milkbankofflorida.org, to learn how becoming a donor helps save the lives of babies.
Laene Keith is the Communication Coordinator of Mothers’ Milk Bank of Florida.
Published January 24, 2023.