Detroit moms with extra breast milk are being given a chance to earn some cash. An Oregon based Company, Medolac Laboratories, is offering Black women money for breast milk. The company, which is White owned and has no Black executives or workers, is targeting the Black community as part of a program with Clinton Global Initiatives aka CGI.
The initiative is to increase the rate of breast feeding by Black mothers. Statistics show that Black moms breastfeed at a 50 percent lower rate than White moms. On its website, the company states that it “seeks to increase breastfeeding rates among urban African American Women by forming a local partnership campaign to support the growth of the Mothers Milk Cooperative’s donor base, promoting healthy behavior and prolonged breastfeeding within their communities.” The milk will be processed and stored with Mothers Milk Cooperative, a milk bank owned and operated by nursing mothers. The company is planning on opening an additional 2,000 donation centers in the Black community. These centers could generate as much as $6.6 million throughout three years.
The mothers are screened and paid $1 per ounce of breast milk; hospitals then purchase the milk from the milk bank for an estimated $7 per ounce. That means that the milk is marked up 600 percent. The company has stated that there is an economic benefit to help poor Black Detroit mothers to earn some much needed income. But critics of the program have stated that the plan is literally sucking mother’s milk dry in a community that needs the milk. The average nursing mother can produce an estimated 100 extra ounces of milk every month but that figure depends on the health of the mother. Many Detroit mothers receive WIC or SNAP benefits to aid in the nutrition of the mom and infant.
Taking needed breast milk out of the community at its most basic level is wrong. The plan conjures up images of slavery when Black slaves were forced to breastfeed their White master’s children alongside their own. The economic impact to the average nursing other would be minimal if she is able to produce extra milk.