by Lilli Bresnahan, Assistant News Editor at The Daily Illini

Original Story found here. 

The Champaign Urbana Health Department, located on Kenyon Road, opens their breast milk depot and dispensary on Tuesday. Photo by Sydney Laput.

The Champaign Urbana Public Health District is reopening its breast milk depot and dispensary on March 29 in cooperation with the Mothers’ Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes.

According to Valerie Koress, the community nutrition program coordinator for CUPHD, the depot is a drop off location for breast milk. A dispensary is a location to buy the milk once it has been pasteurized by the bank.

“Pasteurized donor human milk provides numerous benefits, including infection-fighting factors, growth hormones, improved nutrition and improved digestion,” Amy Roberts, an employee of CUPHD, said in a press release.

According to Jinnie Hoggarth, the relationship manager at the Mothers’ Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes, the Milk Bank WGL is one of about 35 nonprofit milk banks in the country and is the only Illinois and Wisconsin milk bank.

According to Hoggarth, the milk bank has been working with CUPHD since 2020, and partnering with CUPHD helped them connect with more families.

“They get pasteurized milk from us and (CUPHD) has it available for families and patients that might need it,” Hoggarth said.

Donor milk is received from donors that go through a thorough screening and blood screening, according to Roberts.

“All donations are shipped to the milk bank’s processing facility in Elk Grove Village, Ill., where it is pasteurized to eliminate viruses and bacteria,” Roberts said in the press release. “The pasteurized milk is tested by a third-party lab and distributed to hospitals and outpatients in Illinois and Wisconsin.”

Hoggarth noted that human milk is important for premature infants because it supports better outcomes and prevents other diseases.

“When moms don’t have milk available for their babies, they can use donor milk to help support their nutrition plan,” Hoggarth said.

According to Koress, in 2014 they opened the first depot in central Illinois where they were working with the milk bank of Indianapolis.

“If you’re a mom that has extra milk and you want to donate it, it can be really challenging to find a bank that you can donate to, especially if there’s not one near where you live,” Koress said.

They decided to switch and begin working with the Milk Bank WGL because it would make it easier for families to find them. The grand reopening is to recognize that they are opening with a new milk bank.

“It’s growing in popularity in terms of increased needs,” Hoggarth said. “So we are seeing an increase in requests for donor milk.”

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