INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Department of Health has partnered with the Milk Bank to host milk drives to provide donor milk to Hoosiers babies.
The infant formula shortage continues to impact families and infant health across Indiana and the rest of the United States. Indiana has been particularly affected by not only shortages in stores and safety recalls associated with Abbott Nutrition, but also breastfeeding rates below the national average.
State Health Commissioner Kris Box said, “In the absence of a mother’s own milk, pasteurized donor human milk offers optimal nutrition, easy digestibility and immunologic protection against diseases. Since every ounce counts, we have launched six milk drives around the state to ensure that there is enough donor milk for every infant in need.”
The Every Ounce Counts initiative is a statewide collaborative effort to increase both immediate and long-term milk donations. The goal of Every Ounce Counts is to provide convenient opportunities for milk donors to help improve infant health and save lives.
Although the milk drives have the immediate goal of increasing both human milk donors and the human milk supply to distribute back to the community, they also have a goal to increase awareness around human milk and optimal infant feeding. The clinics will have information about safe options to donate not only in the shortage but even after the crisis passes.
According to Freedom Kolb, executive director of The Milk Bank, “More than 1,000 milk donors step forward every year to make sure all babies have their best chance to survive and thrive. Over the last month, we’ve seen an 89% surge in demand and more than 200% increase in medical relief requests. We are grateful to the Indiana Department of Health and our philanthropic partners for helping us ensure that no baby goes hungry and the ability to pay does not dictate health outcomes. Truly every ounce does count.”
Milk drives allow interested donors to complete their blood draw — an important safety step — and make their first donation during one convenient event, which gets milk to those who need it faster. Preregister online, and The Milk Bank will be in touch to answer questions and help with next steps.
Every Ounce Counts launched July 26 with Franciscan Health Lafayette hosting a milk drive at the Franciscan Community Center. The one-day event collected 4,100 ounces of human milk, which is enough to provide 12,300 feedings for fragile NICU babies.
Future milk drives will be held on the following schedule:
- Aug. 13 in Monroe County with IU Health Bloomington Hospital
- Aug. 23 in Lake County with the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana
- Sep. 8 in Clark County with Clark Memorial Health
- Sep. (date TBD) in Allen County with Dupont Hospital
- Oct. 7 in Marion County for a final celebration at Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana
To register for the August events or express interest in the additional dates and locations, go to www.themilkbank.org/events/milkdrive. Interested donors unable to attend a milk drive can start the process at www.themilkbank.org/donate-milk. Those in need of milk can call (317) 536-1670 to discuss their outpatient needs or complete the application online at themilkbank.org/recipient-app.