UnitedHealthcare grant helps babies receive vital nutrients in Minnesota

A $20,000 grant from UnitedHealthcare to the Minnesota Milk Bank for Babies is helping the Golden Valley-based nonprofit purchase a new walk-in freezer, in order to expand their reach.

The new freezer will allow the Minnesota Milk Bank for Babies to double its current capacity for storing milk donations, which are received frozen and must remain frozen after pasteurization. Donations are received from families with an excess milk supply and given to infants in need. These may include medically fragile or premature babies in hospital neonatal intensive care units (NICUs), special care nurseries or other inpatient units.

Minnesota Milk Bank for Babies ensure medically vulnerable infants in Minnesota and across the upper Midwest have access to safely pasteurized, life-giving, donor milk. These donations are critical when a mother’s milk is unavailable or in low supply.

“Minnesota Milk Bank for Babies is a critical partner for serving our community,” said Brett Edelson, CEO, UnitedHealthcare of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. “We are honored to help support increasing their capacity for safely storing donated milk and in doing so supporting more babies and their caregivers.”

Since its launch in 2019, the Minnesota Milk Bank for Babies has helped distribute more than half a million ounces of pasteurized human donor milk to infants. This milk serves as an important bridge for babies until their mother’s milk supply increases or as prescribed by a health provider.

Even before the recent baby formula shortage, an increased demand for donated milk has prompted the Minnesota Milk Bank for Babies to seek expanded storage capabilities and space.

“Donor human milk provides an optimal source of nutrition that is easier to digest when compared to formula,” said Linda Dech, executive director, Minnesota Milk Bank for Babies. “Use of this milk is crucial in the care of preterm and sick infants. Research shows that preterm babies fed human donor milk have fewer infections, less severe complications, and shorter hospitalizations thus reuniting families sooner.”

More information on how to donate milk can be found on the Minnesota Milk Bank for Babies website.