This post was written by Immaculada Moronta.
Agatha House Foundation is a food pantry serving more than 1,000 families each month in the north-west Bronx, the organization opened their doors in January 2014, and have dedicated themselves to feeding low-income individuals and offer childcare services. Their goal is to provide for the basic needs of thousands of people in their communities. In December 2021, Bronx Health REACH connected with Agatha House Foundation in the hopes of working with them in our Healthy Pantry Initiative which focuses on the nuts and bolts of running a food pantry and the procurement of healthier food to create a healthier food environment. During our initial site visit with Jeannette Joseph, CEO and Founder of Agatha Joseph Foundation, I noticed that they had a daycare. My first question to Ms. Joseph was, do you have any breastfeeding mothers? Ms. Joseph nodded, explaining that aside from the daycare they had staff who also breastfed. As a result of this added information, we started to plan how the daycare at the Agatha House Foundation could become a more breastfeeding friendly site.
After my initial visit, our team met with the staff to begin planning the next steps to improve the site for breastfeeding moms. The site completed an initial survey to better understand the state of their support for breastfeeding. This past March, Ms. Joseph and two other staff members who help run the daycare center participated in a virtual training led by Albert Einstein College of Medicine on the positive outcomes of being a breastfeeding friendly site, familiarizing them with the pertinent New York State law on breastfeeding in the workplace, and what’s needed to create a breastfeeding friendly workplace. The training highlighting the benefits to employers of promoting breastfeeding at the worksite pointed to lower employee health care costs due to healthier moms and babies, reduced rates of absenteeism and lower turnover rates for the breastfeeding staff, and the relatively simple low cost accommodations needed to offer a private and quiet space for staff or the public to use.
To provide for an appropriate breastfeeding space our team helped the daycare identify what they needed including adding pillows, a comfortable chair, and a room divider if private office space is not available. The site currently has designated and outfitted a breastfeeding friendly space. We look forward to seeing how the breastfeeding mothers continue to use the space.