The Milk Truck: Feed Your Baby Everywhere
By: Jill Miller
The Milk Truck will start a conversation that creator, Jill Miller, hopes will lead to general acceptance of breastfeeding mothers and babies in the same public spaces they have been asked to leave. Despite a soaring breastfeeding rate over the past decade, an ABC poll showed that 57% of Americans felt that a woman should not have the right to breastfeed in public and 72% said it was inappropriate to show a woman nursing on television. The Milk Truck aims to take that conversation to a new level.
The benefits of breastfeeding have been well-documented. Breastfed babies have greater resistance to infection in early life and are less likely to contract a number of diseases in later life – such as juvenile diabetes, multiple sclerosis, heart disease and cancer. A variety of studies have shown that breastfeeding strengthens infants’ immune systems; they are less likely to suffer respiratory illness, diarrheal disease, ear infections and allergies. Breastfed infants also have a lesser probability of dying from SIDS. Mothers also reap benefits – breastfeeding mothers are less likely to suffer from osteoporosis and have lower rates of breast, uterine and ovarian cancers. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends mothers breastfeed exclusively for six months, continuing on to twelve months and beyond as is mutually desired by mom and baby.
Breastfeeding is becoming so normalized in many social circles that the question is no longer, “Breast or bottle?” Instead it is, “How long can I keep my baby breastfeeding?” However, there is still a lack of acceptance in general society for the mother who breastfeeds her baby in public. In June, a Detroit woman, nursing her two-week old son was ordered by a female driver to cover up or get off the bus. This is an example of a story that got national attention. Certainly there are hundreds of others each year that do not get attention, and the mothers and babies suffer the indignity in silence.
This is where Jill Miller’s concept for The Milk Truck comes in. The Milk Truck is part performance art and part social service packaged in a stylish, attention-grabbing ice cream truck complete with a breast on top. The Milk Truck will be wired via Twitter, Facebook and Email to respond to mothers who have been harrassed, bullied or otherwise ostracized for breastfeeding. Distressed mother calls, The Milk Truck comes to the rescue. Fellow moms will drive The Milk Truck to the incident location and set up shop, providing an awning, seating and (most-importantly) a way to communicate to the public that breastfeeding is natural and should be welcomed anywhere a mom finds herself.
The goal is to bring attention to the acceptability of public breastfeeding with humor and style. Today’s moms are relying more and more on social media to shape their preferences. The Milk Truck reaches out, in a uniquely hip way, to show that breastfeeding is the natural and preferred choice. Taking the stigma out of breastfeeding will lead to more moms doing it and in turn, lead to healthier babies and moms as a result.
The Milk Truck will also make appearances at public events to provide breastfeeding education starting with the 2011 Pittsburgh Biennial at the Andy Warhol Museum on September 26. It is being funded through kickstarter.org at: www.kickstarter.com/projects/jillmiller/the-milk-truck. To date, The Milk Truck has reached its $10,000 Kickstarter goal but needs more funds! For more information and to donate please visit, www.themilktruck.org.
Jill Miller is an artist and a mom who’s recent work positions itself between public and private, teasing out the fear and excitement we feel when presented with images we are not supposed to see.