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Cadillac Woman Donates Breast Milk to Parents in Need Amid Formula Shortage

Milk Donations

Melanie Vandeboss’ son, Julian, is six months old. Over the last four months she’s been breastfeeding him, she’s donated nearly 7,000 ounces of her milk to local families.

“I noticed I was overproducing a ton, and my coworkers and my parents and my husband were like, ‘why don’t you just find someone to donate?'” She says.

With that suggestion, she went to Facebook and posted in a local page that she was looking for people in need. Then she was told to look into ‘Human Milk for Human Babies’ on the social media app.

“I found 11 different moms,” Vandenboss says. One of those moms is Jessica Denton, whose son is 4 months old.

“I was not able to breastfeed,” says Denton. “I have IGT, which is insufficient glandular tissue, so I don’t have enough milk ducts to produce enough milk for him. And I was only getting like three ounces a day. The most I ever got was five. So I was looking for breast milk for him.”

Denton was willing to drive 2 hours round trip to get milk as she lives in Coleman.

“I didn’t even think about it. There was food for my baby. I was going to get it,” she says.

There are many reasons a mom might not be able to breastfeed and needs help feeding her baby.

But Vandenboss says two mothers reached out to her when she started donating in February because of the shortage in baby formula. COVID-19 supply chain snags and a product recall from Abbott Nutrition in Sturgis, MI have caused shortages. Meanwhile, prices for formula have increased in the past 12 months. The average cost for a popular brand has gone up 18%.

“I wasn’t able to give them a ton, maybe 350 ounces, but I gave what I could,” she says. “And I think they still haven’t found what they’re looking for. I had one mom drive two and a half hours to get some milk. She had twins, so I gave her 700 ounces.”

Vandenboss has said she feels blessed to be able to donate.

“It just breaks my heart,” she says. “I can’t imagine not being able to feed my baby. I just don’t know where I would be. I would be at a loss every day.”

Vandenboss has helped many families in a time of need, but she says she’ll soon have to cut back on pumping. She’ll spend two hours a day pumping breast milk, and before that it was 5 hours. Now, she’s going back to work and won’t have time.

“I actually just gave my last donation to Jessica [Denton], last weekend,” she says.

Vandenboss says that if any one can donate milk, they should, especially now.

“I would recommend if you have extra stored, I would donate it to any mom you can find. If she can’t feed her baby,  you’ve got to help. There can’t be hungry babies here.”