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By: McKenna Alexander

MADISON, Wis. — A nationwide shortage of baby formula has forced thousands of mothers to look for other options, which oftentimes means relying on milk banks. In Madison, a new milk depot will help meet that growing demand.

Since the beginning of 2022, there’s been a 20% increase in milk requests at the Mothers’ Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. The accredited non-profit distributes milk to over 75 hospitals and thousands of families across Wisconsin and Illinois.

“All of the milk that’s collected at the 70 depots in Wisconsin and Illinois comes here at our processing facility in Elk Grove Village,” said Susan Urbanski, the program manager for Mothers’ Milk Bank WGL. “We test the milk, we pasteurize it. And then we’re able to get it back out to those hospitals and those families that need it most.”

The new milk depot inside UW Health’s clinic on Odana Road is ready to accept milk from approved Dane County donors.

“Every family wants the best for their children, and when they can’t provide that for their infants, that’s where donor milk comes in,” said Dr. Anne Eglash, who serves as the medical director for Mothers’ Milk Bank WG and with the University of Wisconsin’s breastfeeding medicine clinic.

On the outside, the new milk depot fridge may look like any old appliance, but inside there are bags of donated milk that, for some babies, are life-saving.

“Most of our patients are babies in the NICU, so these are premature babies born very early, very small,” Urbanski said. “The moms in those situations, the delivering moms, their body doesn’t necessarily always kick right into high gear and make enough milk right away.”

“It will probably be one of the busiest depots in Wisconsin because there’s a really high breastfeeding rate in Madison,” Urbanski said. “The easier we make it for our donors to donate, the more likely they are to participate and to donate more. And the more milk we have, the more families we can serve, the more babies we can feed.”

With the goal of giving every baby access to the best nutrition possible, Urbanski said this new clinic furthers the milk depot’s mission of helping families one donation, one distribution, at a time.

If you’re interested in donating or receiving breast milk, click or tap here.

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