Milk Depots play an important role in making donor human milk available to babies across the country.
Milk Depots are donation and outreach centers across the country that help us collect milk from generous donors.
Thanks to our Milk Depots all over the country, donating human milk has become an easier, safer process for moms from more communities who wish to donate their milk in order to help other babies. This guide serves to outline the ways in which organizations can become Milk Depots and help the mothers in their communities be a part of this unique program.
If you’re interested in becoming a Milk Depot, please contact us. We’ll send you additional information and help you prepare to start accepting donations.
Milk Depot FAQs
A Milk Depot is a healthcare or community facility affiliated with Mothers’ Milk Bank that collects and stores raw frozen milk, draws donors’ blood for screening, and delivers the donor milk to MMB. Depending on the location, some Milk Depots can arrange to have the milk picked up by MMB volunteers or staff. If this is not an option, boxes and prepaid shipping labels can be supplied to the Centers. Milk Depots are not responsible for screening donors or processing or distributing the milk. These are responsibilities of MMB. Questions about donating should always be referred to MMB.
The Milk Depot Coordinator is the person who serves to oversee the Milk Depot and all of the incoming and outgoing milk, as well as the blood specimens. This person would also help educate his/her community about donor human milk and the important role that the Milk Depot plays in saving babies lives with human milk.
This person also helps to identify potential moms in their communities who might make good donors. Besides accepting and shipping milk, he/she will be the contact person and provide regular updates to MMB. He/she is responsible for making sure that anyone who helps with the Milk Depot is trained and maintains proper records.
Milk Depots must be able to:
- Store raw milk that is delivered by donors in a freezer. The freezer needs to maintain milk in a frozen state – ideally at -20 C or -4 F.
- Record the freezer temperature daily, or every day that the facility is staffed. The coordinator must report to MMB any variations in temperature. MMB can supply a thermometer.
- Keep the freezers locked or in a secure area.
- Clean and defrost the freezers as needed.
- Provide contact phone numbers and hours of operation for blood draws and dropping off of milk.
- Serve as a point of delivery for donors dropping off milk.
- Order shipping boxes and ice packs from MMB for outgoing milk (if applicable).
- Ship the donated milk to MMB using the boxes, ice packs and FedEx labels provided by MMB (if applicable).
- Draw blood and prepare specimens for shipment.
- Maintain records of the milk received and shipped using the Milk Intake Records and Shipping Records provided by MMB.
- Greet and continue good customer service with donors.
- Follow HIPPA requirements for confidentiality.
The Milk Depot may set specific hours for donors to drop off their milk. The donors may also be required to make appointments for their blood draws. The donors will bring with them a tube pack and instructions for the blood draw.
The donors will collect their milk in storage bags provided by MMB. The bags do not have to be labeled individually with the donor’s name or donor number. They can simply be double bagged in a larger plastic bag and tied shut. Be sure to mark the outside of the bag with her donor number. Each donor’s milk should be placed in a plastic bag and tied shut so that no containers of milk can escape from the bag.
MMB always covers the cost of shipping milk to the milk bank. MMB will provide the Milk Depot with special insulated shipping boxes, ice packs, and prepaid FedEx shipping labels. The Milk Depot will put the milk and blood specimens in the box, being careful to keep milk from different donors separated and label the milk with the donor’s name and/or number.
The frozen ice packs should be placed on top of the milk. Any extra space should be filled in with bubble wrap or other packing materials. The box should be taped shut and the prepaid shipping label placed on the outside of the box. FedEx should be called a day ahead of time to arrange for pick-up, unless regular FedEx pickups are set up for the Milk Depot. If there are regular pickups in the building, the boxes will need to be transported to the receiving dock or an area where the FedEx driver will collect them. FedEx will not pick up any boxes or deliver any boxes on Saturdays unless special arrangements are made in advance.
The success of the Milk Depot will depend on letting the community know that the Milk Depot exists. The Milk Depot will need to develop a strategy for outreach from the very beginning. The opening day of the Milk Depot is a prime media opportunity to showcase the Milk Depot and the lactation/birth services of the facility.
MMB can provide a sample press release and ideas for creating an event that will attract the newspapers and television news. Taking photos at any event, including the opening and including them on the facility’s Facebook page and website will be important.
The community at large, including ObGyn and Pediatrician offices, maternity and baby stores, doula groups, lactation consultants, etc., will want to know that the Milk Depot is now a part of the community. MMB can provide brochures and other materials for Milk Depots to hand out to these locations.
A nonprofit program of Rocky Mountain Children’s Health Foundation, Mothers’ Milk Bank collects, processes, tests and provides donor human milk (breast milk) to babies across the country. Babies who receive the milk may be premature or have severe illnesses and need human milk to thrive.
MMB consistently provides more milk to NICUs than any other nonprofit milk bank in North America and adheres to the strict guidelines of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA). National and international organizations, as well as many medical professional groups, acknowledge and support donor human milk as the “first choice” for all infant feeding when the mother’s own milk is unavailable.