MISSOULA — Toilet paper, housing, hospital beds, computer chips -- the list goes on, and some days it seems like nothing has escaped the pandemic’s impacts.
That being said, it’s no surprise that milk banks are running out of milk, throwing a wrench into the ever growing and ever utilized business of breast milk.
“We have moms that donate 100 ounces and moms that donate thousands of ounces and everything in between,” said executive director for Mothers’ Milk Bank of Montana Jessica Welborn.
The first milk bank to open in Montana -- Mother’s Milk Bank based in Missoula, saw their donations surge about six months into the pandemic.
Things were going so well that the milk bank was able to promote a previously-established scholarship program called Give the Gift of Milk.
“We do scholarship milk because donor milk is so expensive and not affordable for a lot of families, even in that middle income realm,” Welborn told MTN News.
As the last year took its twists and turns, so did the milk bank’s donations, causing their scholarship program to suffer.
“Four to six months ago it started to dwindle, that's at the time when things kind of started to open up more...people were out more.”
Welborn doesn’t have hard evidence, but she noted that there seemed to be a direct correlation between the ebbs and flows of the pandemic with the fluctuation of milk donations.
Now, everyone from the local NICU that’s caring for underweight babies, to the foster family taking in a newborn, is having a hard time getting their hands on what many call “liquid gold.”
Of all the people needing breast milk -- it’s those who can’t afford it and may be experiencing formula intolerance -- those families that would qualify for the Give the Gift of Milk Scholarship.
Welborn urges nursing mothers to lend a hand if they’re able.
“If you find yourself with a lot of extra milk, the Mother's Milk Bank of Montana is in need,” said Welborn. “We have quite a list of families in need of donor milk that they would be given on scholarship."
"Right now with the shortage, we've had to put that program on hold, and we'd love to be able to start that up again when we can get some more milk in the door.”
You can learn more about ways to help by calling 406-531-6789 or by visiting their website.