Ventura, CA – Recently, a group of non-profit and government partners hosted an inaugural milk collection event to kick-off the opening of the first Milk Depot in Ventura County, located at the North Oxnard Women Infant and Children Program (WIC) site.
The Women Infant and Children Program (WIC) within Ventura County Public Health, a department of the Ventura County Health Care Agency, Ventura Coast Milk Bank, the Breastfeeding Coalition of Ventura County (The Breastfeeding Coalition), and University of California Health Milk Bank (UC Health Milk Bank) collaborated to locally implement a program that will supply premature and medically ill infants with human donor milk.
Generous donors from across the county registered to be screened and approved to drop off breast milk that will benefit families within Ventura County and beyond. The donations were held in a temperature-monitored freezer and will be processed through UC Health Milk Bank to provide safe, pasteurized, human milk to hospitalized, newly born, or fragile infants. The high-quality donor milk will help improve the health outcomes for small or medically ill infants most in need.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “breast milk increases the health outcomes for premature and medically ill infants. A mother’s milk contains the most ideal nutrients for baby, but in cases where a mother’s own milk is not available, pasteurized human milk is the best alternative.”
“Milk banks provide safe, generously donated breast milk when a mother’s own milk is not available”, said Emily Ostrowski, Co-Founder and President of Ventura Coast Milk Bank. “We are so grateful to the mothers who came out today to donate their precious milk because we know donor milk saves lives.”
This partnership began in 2021 under the leadership of Amy Avelar, a WIC Nutritionist, International Board- Certified Lactation Counselor, Board Member of The Breastfeeding Coalition, and passionate advocate for women and children. Amy passed away in 2022 but her legacy will be remembered as the Oxnard Milk Depot is dedicated in her honor.
“Amy believed that all children deserve the healthiest start in life. This milk depot honors her work to increase access to breastfeeding support and donor milk in Ventura County. Her memory and dedication to improving the lives of children lives on here with us,” said Laura Flores, Director of WIC-Ventura County Public Health.
Lactating mothers with one-hundred ounces or more of extra frozen milk may be candidates for milk donation. To find out more information on donating or apply to be a donor, visit: Milk Depots — Ventura Coast Milk Bank (vcmilkbank.org) or call/text 805.242.MILK.
Ventura County Public Health- Women, Infant and Children Program (WIC)
WIC is a health and nutrition program for growing families. WIC provides federally funded temporary assistance for Women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or have recently had a baby; and Infants and Children under five years of age through nutrition education, breastfeeding support, healthy foods, and referrals to healthcare and other community services. For more information or to apply for WIC, visit: Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) (vchca.org).
Breastfeeding Coalition of Ventura County
The Coalition is a nonprofit 501c3 corporation, comprised of health care providers, community leaders, policy makers, and parents, as well as public and private organizations with the common goal of promoting and supporting breastfeeding as the culture norm in Ventura County through providing resources and education to families, health care professionals, employers, and policy makers. For more information, visit: www.breastfeedventura.org.
Ventura Coast Milk Bank
Ventura Coast Milk Bank is dedicated to improving public health through accessible breastfeeding education and distribution of pasteurized donor breast milk to infants with a medical need. Based out of Ventura, California with plans to serve Ventura, Santa Barbara, and Los Angeles counties, Ventura Coast Milk Bank will collect, screen, pasteurize, and distribute donor human milk. Their mission is to educate the public on the benefits of breastfeeding and increasing the amount of donor milk available for medically fragile infants in the community. For more information, visit: www.vcmilkbank.org.
University of California Health Milk Bank
UC Health Milk Bank is a non-profit donor human milk bank accredited by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America. They are one of only two non-profit milk banks in California and the only milk bank owned by a health care system. Their mission is to provide high quality pasteurized donor milk to NICU’s and families in California. For more information, visit: UCmilkbank.ucsd.edu.