When the New York Milk Bank opened in June, it didn’t have issues with delivering the donated breast milk to moms-in-need in the northern New York City suburb where it was located. But getting the much-needed breast milk to moms in NYC was another challenge.
However, executive director Julie Bouchet-Horwitz says she was inspired by one thing while sitting in her car one day: traffic.
She tells People magazine she got the idea for using an all-female motorcycle group to help with milk deliveries in the city while watching motorcycles zip in and out of heavy city traffic.
That’s when Bouchet-Horwitz reached out to Sirens Women’s Motorcycle Group of New York City to help with the city deliveries. She told the Huffington Post she chose a women’s group over men since there’s female bond “between all of us.”
“It’s women who are donating their milk and nursing their babies,” she said.
Jen Baquial, the motorcycle group’s president, brought up the idea during a meeting and the members unanimously agreed to helping out with the deliveries. They dubbed their new operation the “Milk Riders.”
According to the "Today" show, the group helps transport donor milk from pre-screened mothers to one of the New York Milk Bank’s many storage facilities, then back out again to families in need.
There are roughly 20 milk banks in the U.S. and like the New York Milk Bank, they’re all non-profits.
The Sirens’ delivery service works in two ways. First, the group collects milk from local mothers and delivers it to one of the milk bank’s 22 storage facilities scattered throughout the area. Once the milk arrives, it’s tested to make sure it’s safe to eat and stored at one of those 22 collection sites.
It’s then delivered to moms and babies in need.
“We are volunteering our time and machines,” Baquial says. “However, the NYMB does reimburse us for tolls and mileage.”
If Sirens aren’t available, then milk bank staff or FedEx will make the delivery.
Bouchet-Horwitz tells the Huffington Post the group has delivered “hundreds if not thousands of ounces” of donated breast milk to babies whose own mothers’ milk is either unavailable or in low supply.
The group also delivers the pre-screened milk to hospitals when needed. The lady bikers use the texting app WhatsApp to alert members within an area of needed deliveries.