By Jeff Spitz, Brooklyn Breastfeeding Empowerment Zone

Outreach volunteers Desree Foster (left) and Jelisa Tannis (right) persuaded manager Stephanie Lastra (center) to make this Bed-Stuy juice bar a breastfeeding-friendly establishment for mothers. Photo by Stephen Beasley.

This summer, the Brooklyn Breastfeeding Empowerment Zone (BFEZ) hit the streets for its “Breastfeeding Is Welcome Here” project. The BFEZ visited local business sites to speak with owners and managers about becoming breastfeeding friendly.This includes welcoming and accommodating breastfeeding mothers and families, providing literature, and educating staff about breastfeeding rights and laws.

Owners and managers were very receptive and supportive of the initiative. Many said they wanted the best for the families and the community they serve. In Bedford-Stuyvesant, one pharmacy manager said she wanted to be part of the initiative “because breastfeeding is natural, and mothers have to supply nutrients to their children. It shouldn’t be a problem!” A restaurant owner in Brownsville said, “We want to be a space that positively promotes breastfeeding. We are a community-oriented restaurant.”

In July, we spoke with over 70 business owners and managers about the multiple benefits of joining this initiative. Many of the businesses wanted to start right away! As of August 1, the BFEZ has a total of 58 businesses that are breastfeeding friendly or are in the process of becoming so. The process includes a staff training on breastfeeding rights and laws and signing the “Breastfeeding is Welcome Here” Business Pledge.

If you’re out in Bedford-Stuyvesant or Brownsville, look for our white and magenta decals that read “Breastfeeding is Welcome Here” in the windows of coffee shops and cafes, libraries, laundromats, restaurants, day care centers, health centers, hair salons, and pharmacies.

You can find these breastfeeding-friendly spaces by downloading the LatchME app (Apple and Google play stores). Information is updated regularly.

For more information about the Brooklyn Breastfeeding Empowerment Zone or the Breastfeeding Is Welcome Here initiative, please contact Sharon Marshall-Taylor, Program Manager, at Smarshalltaylor@health.nyc.gov

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