BIRMINGHAM, Ala (WKRG) — The nationwide baby formula shortage has left mothers searching for alternative ways of feeding their children, but it has also inspired others to donate breast milk to banks. In Alabama, Mother’s Milk Bank of Alabama has been distributing pasteurized breast milk to those in need since 2015.

Based in Birmingham, Ala., MMBAL supplies donor breast milk to 17 hospitals across the state of Alabama. MMBAL has seen increased interest from potential donors during the shortage, but the process of screening and processing the milk takes time, and donors get labs done to screen for communicable diseases. According to Kristina Habchi, executive director of Mother’s Milk Bank of Alabama, the donated milk is distributed as soon as safely possible.

“The milk that we see in our facilities is in and out within weeks. The need is very high, and any milk that comes to us gets sent out ASAP and is made critically safe for those really small babies that can be easily harmed,” she said.

According to Habchi, the non-profit’s supply began to run low earlier this year.

“We have seen many more moms who wouldn’t be reaching out because they would be using formula desperately looking for resources for their kids through us,” she said. “Our stock was stretched thin at the beginning of this year and we were just starting to see the effects of COVID. So our supply is relatively low, but we are doing our best to get breast milk out to the people who need it.”

The milk that MMBAL receives is first distributed to hospitals for use in their neo-natal intensive care units for small and immune-compromised babies. After the need at hospitals is met, the rest of the milk from the banks is distributed to others in need.

“After we meet the need in our hospitals, we will dispense milk into the community based on medical necessity first,” she said. “We ask all of our moms who interested in receiving donor milk to get a prescription from their baby’s pediatrician stating that need, and then we dispense based on that need.”

If you are interested in donating to MMBAL’s breast milk bank, you can visit their website here or send an email to donors@mmbal.org.