State launches drive for breast-milk donors amid baby formula shortage

As the baby formula shortage continues, Indiana health officials are working with The Milk Bank on events across the state that are aimed at encouraging mothers to donate breast milk for Hoosier babies.

The milk drive, dubbed “Every Ounce Counts,” launched July 26 at Franciscan Heath Lafayette. The one-day event resulted in the collection of 4,100 ounces of human milk. That’s enough to provide 12,300 feedings for fragile infants in neonatal intensive care units, state health officials said.

A series of four more events is scheduled: at the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana in Lake County on Aug. 23; Clark Memorial Health in Clark County on Sept. 8; Dupont Hospital in Allen County on a yet-to-be-determined date in September; and Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, in Indianapolis, on Oct. 7.

The events allow interested donors to have their blood drawn as a safety precaution, then make their first milk donation, in one convenient stop. Donors are encouraged to register at www.themilkbank.org/events/milkdrive

Freedom Kolb, executive director of Indianapolis-based The Milk Bank, said the national formula shortage has resulted in an 89% surge in demand for the organization’s breast milk in the past month and a 200% increase in medical relief requests.

Kolb said in a written statement that the milk drive will help the organization “ensure that no baby goes hungry and the ability to pay does not dictate health outcomes.”

Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box said that, in the absence of a mother’s own milk, “pasteurized donor human milk offers optimal nutrition, easy digestibility and immunologic protection against diseases.”

Parents across the nation have been dealing for months with a baby formula shortage. Statistics released at the end of July showed a 30% out-of-stock rate, compared with a 5% to 7% out-of-stock rate pre-pandemic.

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