Event Recap: HMBANA Symposium

Amy Vickers presents to symposium attendees.
MMBNT Executive Director Amy Vickers leads a discussion about milk processing, along with Operations Director Shaina Starks and Colorado's Rebecca Heinrich.

Last week, the milk banking world converged in our own backyard for the first-ever HMBANA Symposium. Held in nearby Arlington, the symposium brought together staff from every HMBANA milk bank, from Vancouver to Florida to everywhere in between. HMBANA, short for the Human Milk Banking Association of North America, is the professional association for nonprofit milk banks and milk banking supporters.

HMBANA board members kicked off the event with a day-long meeting on Thursday, May 4. On Friday, the rest of the symposium attendees joined in. The day began with a presentation about the more than 30-year history of HMBANA, and highlighted the exponential growth the organization has seen in recent years. In fact, presenters announced that in 2016, member milk banks distributed 5.25 million ounces of pasteurized donor human milk.

Guests at the MMBNT open house.
Guests enjoyed the perfect spring weather during the MMBNT open house.


After an educational general session, attendees participated in breakout sessions specific to their positions. Staff learned about their fields and networked with their counterparts at other milk banks, getting the welcome opportunity to share ideas and experiences with each other. The formal portion of the day concluded with a presentation by Dr. Erin Hamilton Spence, Mothers' Milk Bank of North Texas' medical director.

With the symposium taking place so close to home, MMBNT staff welcomed all the attendees to an open house at our milk bank Friday evening. Guests enjoyed tacos and ice cream from local restaurants, and toured the MMBNT building. It was a great chance to relax and enjoy each other's company.

Poster presentations from The New York Milk Bank and The Milk Bank, Indiana.
Many milk banks presented posters, including these from The New York Milk Bank and The Milk Bank (Indiana).

Saturday brought more general education and networking sessions. Jennifer Canvasser, a milk donor and founder of the NEC Society, was one of the presenters. She shared her moving story about her family's experience with necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) and the power of donor human milk.

While the main portion of the symposium concluded around lunchtime, the day continued into the afternoon for staff from developing milk banks. They learned about fundraising, depot development and grant writing in order to establish the newest milk banks in the HMBANA family.

Overall, the long weekend was the perfect way for milk banking professionals to network, exchange ideas and further their knowledge of the field. Attendees went back to their own milk banks with a renewed sense of community and enthusiasm for the goal of feeding infants in need.