Milk Depot FAQs

Published in Birthing Services, For the Health of It Author: Jeanne Friebe, BSN, RNC, IBCLC

This spring, CentraCare – St. Cloud Hospital opened CentraCare Milk Depot, the first of its kind in Central Minnesota, allowing pre-screened donors to drop off extra breastmilk to help medically vulnerable babies. This allows access to safely pasteurized, life-giving human donor milk when mother’s milk is unavailable or in low supply. Jeanne Friebe, BSN, RNC, IBCLC, a nurse and lactation consultant in the Birthing Center, is the depot coordinator and answers questions about donating breastmilk.

Q: What is a donor human milk bank?

Jeanne: Mothers who are breastfeeding often have extra breast milk. A milk bank is a facility which processes human donor milk for distribution to infants who need breast milk. The donated milk is pasteurized, tested to be safe for use, is then frozen and stored until it is shipped to health care facilities. Anyone who needs breastmilk can contact a milk bank to purchase it. 

Big News! CentraCare – Monticello has now opened a second location of the CentraCare Milk Depot, providing moms the convenience of accepting donations 24/7. For more information on our Monticello location, call 763-271-2218.

Q: What is the difference between a human donor milk bank and a milk depot?

Jeanne: A milk depot is a place where mothers can bring their extra milk to donate for other babies. The collected milk is transported to the milk bank.

Each human milk depot is affiliated with an established milk bank. The milk donated at this depot is then sent to the Minnesota Milk Bank, which is located in Golden Valley.

The Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) mobilizes the healing power of donor milk by accrediting nonprofit milk banks in the U.S. and Canada and setting international guidelines for pasteurized donor human milk.

Q: Who can benefit from the donated milk?

Jeanne: Not only does the milk go to those who request it, but to health care facilities. A premature baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit may eat one ounce or less in a single feeding. Exclusive human milk feeding significantly reduces the incidence of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a leading cause for prematurity-related death.

Q: What should I do if I'm interested in donating breast milk?

Jeanne: If you are interested in donating milk, contact the Minnesota Milk Bank for Babies at info@mnmilkbank.org or 763-546-8051 and the Milk Bank staff will guide you through the screening process, including a blood test, which is free.

Once approved, you can drop off your precious donation for the CentraCare Milk Depot at CentraCare Plaza. For more information about the CentraCare Milk Depot by calling 320-251-2700, ext. 51990. Or find a location closest to you (there are eight other locations in Minnesota).