Polk County Public Health (PCPH), Crookston Area Chamber and Polk County Breastfeeding Coalition(PCBC) partner-U of M Extension, presented on Thursday, October 3 at the annual Minnesota Community Health Conference sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Health and the State Community Health Services Advisory Committee.

    Tammy Conn (PCPH), Terri Heggie, (Crookston Area Chamber) and Megan Hruby (U of M Extension) shared ideas and inspired conference participants to leave with tools to recreate the “Anytime, Anywhere Initiative” in their own communities. The learning station included how to welcome breastfeeding families, collaborate with business/community entities, develop and create partnerships to implement an initiative.

    Members of the Polk County Breastfeeding Coalition, along with the Polk County Wellness Coalition and the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership, teamed up to create the Anytime, Anywhere Initiative. This initiative is to increase awareness for public acceptance of breastfeeding by engaging area businesses, restaurants, and other community entities to sign a pledge supporting breastfeeding mothers throughout their establishment. Supporting breastfeeding moms includes not asking mothers to leave an area that is open to the public, to cover her baby or stop breastfeeding.

    Participating businesses agree to educate their staff about the breastfeeding law, welcoming breastfeeding families and their participation in the initiative. Business are invited to sign a pledge, given a handout for employees about the initiative with tips on how to welcome breastfeeding families positively, and window clings are presented to establishments to be placed in a visible spot.   

     The anytime, anywhere breastfeeding law-145.905 LOCATION FOR BREASTFEEDING: “A mother may breastfeed in any location, public or private, where the mother and child are otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother's breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breastfeeding.”

    The Anytime, Anywhere Initiative started with one business in Crookston. Terri Heggie, Executive Director of the Crookston Area Chamber, became involved and has taken this initiative to new heights by taking the pledge forms out to many businesses while on routine visits, thus reducing Public Health staff time, and increasing the participation and visibility of the movement immensely. This year has most certainly been a success for the initiative; plans are to continue growing this initiative, expanding to the rest of the county.

    If you would like more information on the “Anytime, Anywhere Initiative”, please call Polk County Public Health, 218-281-3385.