A farmer, a mother-to-be, a registered nurse and two public health workers walk into a bar, a coffee bar that is. This is not the start to another bad joke, but just a day in the life of some Western Kentucky Breastfeeding Coalition members and friends. This is Bowling Green’s very own league of breastfeeding advocates working together to promote a harmonious balance with mom, baby, breast and everyone else. This is the modern story of Farm to Table, where at times the table just happens to be the breast.
BG’s breastfeeding efforts paralleled the realm of local foods for so long that it only seemed natural to combine the two. The Community Farmers Market, with the help of local farmer, mother, food advocate, entrepreneur and breastfeeding supporter, Michelle Howell, served as the springboard for the idea. This farmers market features local foods and one cannot get any more local than breastfeeding! This year-round farmers market does more than just sell anything a small farm can grow. It has booths for local crafters and artisans, promotes community involvement and helped grow the idea of Babynet KY.
Babynet KY is currently housed on a Facebook platform and serves as a forum for local parents and parents-to-be. Dana Bennett, local dietitian, breastfeeding promoter, crafter and farmers market supporter, is one of the few that moderates the page. Members are free to post any questions, comments or concerns about anything baby. Discussion is encouraged and often unavoidable. This social media tool keeps the area connected and provides parents with much needed information and resources that are often overlooked in official publication. Babynet KY members are invited to meet once a month with other members and hear about what hot topics are on the rise in the community. Speakers, including LINK’s very own Cerise Bouchard, are featured at meetings to broadcast what is happening in new areas of breastfeeding promotion, birth stories, babywearing and many other topics seen daily on the Facebook page. Just this month, efforts from famers market advocates and Babynet KY members combined can be seen in a local publication, EAT.
EAT is created and published locally and printed twice a year to promote local foods, farming and sustainability. Gracing the pages of the latest issue is a wonderful full-page spread featuring breastfeeding mothers at a local coffee bar. A local photographer donated time to do a tasteful photo shoot empowering breastfeeding women in a local establishment. The adjacent page lists nine local food establishments that promote and encourage breastfeeding. These nine local supporters were the first to proudly display the international breastfeeding symbol in their storefront windows as a beacon of hope and comfort for breastfeeding women and the cause. Window decals provided by the group will be creeping up across BG as more and more support is gained through community-wide promotion.
So, from the Community Farmers Market to Babynet KY to the biannual publication of EAT magazine, the women at today’s coffee bar are walking door-to-door to pass out the publication. The featured advertisement serves as a reminder for the community that breastfeeding is an important local effort that we must sustain. It reminds mothers that they do have the power and the support to breastfeeding anywhere they decide to go in their community, and it reminds this wonderful group of women that their efforts are helping to create a shift. This local shift is looked upon proudly by LINK and its supporters. It helps shine a light on the vision that soon a culture of support for breastfeeding will be the norm in Kentucky.