The Milk Truck: Mobile Support for Breastfeeding Moms
By Jacqueline Tourville
Part performance art, part superhero and all about helping nursing moms feel supported when they breastfeed in public, the Milk Truck is an on-call mobile breastfeeding vehicle that will soon roll through the streets of Pittsburgh, PA, coming to the aid of any mom hassled by business owners and others when she needs to feed her baby on the go.
“Yes, we will buy an ice cream truck and attach a giant boob to the top! Yes, we will become superhero-like in our vigilant support of nursing mothers! And yes, we take our mission very seriously,” writes artist Jill Miller.
“We’re tired of hearing stories about women being asked to leave restaurants or ‘cover up’ with a blanket while doing something as simple as feeding a baby. But we’re not the type to complain; we’re the type to take action,” says the artist and mom behind the Milk Truck, Jill Miller.
How does the Milk Truck work? “When a woman finds herself in a situation where she is discouraged, harassed, or unwelcome to breastfeed her baby in public, she summons the Milk Truck [via Twitter or Facebook],” Miller explains. The truck arrives at the location of the woman in need and provides her with a shelter for feeding her baby, complete with shade awning, rug and comfortable chair. At the same time, alerts sent out to the local breastfeeding community will urge other moms to show up at the business for a spontaneous “nurse-in”.
“The woman feeds her child, the shopkeeper who harassed her feels like a dweeb, and the truck does what it does best – creates a spectacle. Which is, incidentally, the very thing that the shopkeeper thought he was trying to avoid,” she adds.
A spectacle, not because there is anything wrong about nursing in public, but because Miller’s plans for the Milk Truck include buying an ice cream truck and outfitting it with a giant breast on top. She is more than halfway to reaching her goal for the project (via Kickstarter) and the Milk Truck is scheduled to hit the streets this September as part of the 2011 Pittsburgh Biennial at the Andy Warhol Museum.
“Yes, we will buy an ice cream truck and attach a giant boob to the top! Yes, we will become superhero-like in our vigilant support of nursing mothers! And yes, we take our mission very seriously,” Miller writes in her fundraising letter.
Do We Need Milk Trucks?
What if the Milk Truck gets stuck in traffic? What if two moms summon the Milk Truck at the same time? Miller understands the practical limitations of the project, even admitting that the Milk Truck won’t be available 24/7 because the drivers will need time to sleep! But she does see the project as becoming a powerful way to “start a conversation in our community about a basic human right: feeding a baby.”
“Not only will the Milk Truck provide ‘urgent’ services to moms in need, but we will also visit public events throughout the city and provide a much-needed nursing space: art openings, concerts, fairs, sporting events and more. Invite us – we’ll do our best to be there,” says Miller.
Best of all? If the maiden voyage of the Milk Truck in Pittsburgh is a success, the performance artist plans for Milk Trucks to start popping up in communities nationwide.