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Breastaurant: San Antonio mom creates app connecting parents to nearby breast milk donors

Amid nationwide baby formula shortages, Jolene Guerra has seen a surge in parents using her app to find, donate, and sell human breast milk.

SAN ANTONIO — Baby formula shortages continue to impact families across the country. Inflation, supply-chain shortages, and product recalls are still leading to empty shelves nationwide. 

At one point in April, 56 percent of San Antonio's formula supply was out of stock, making it one of the nation's hardest places to find formula.

Medical experts urge parents to avoid diluting and/or making homemade formula, as parents struggled to find alternatives. 

Mom of three Jolene Guerra knows the switching formula struggle all too well. Her three children had complications with nutrition and eating. At one point, she was on her sixth formula attempt. 

Like many moms, Guerra was not able to produce breast milk, but she then realized there were other moms who were willing to share their extra supply. 

Three years ago, she created Breastaurant -- a locator app to donate, buy, or receive donor milk. Guerra officially launched the app a year ago. 

"You’ll see whether they’re compensate, whether they’re free, whether they’re donors. So most people that are free either they’re looking for or they’re not gonna charge you for it."

Credit: Apple.com

Guerra said they have seen an increase of users in the last two weeks across Bexar County and Wilson County. 

Most of that surge came from parents who are struggling to find their formula on the shelves. Other parents are using it as a temporary solution until they restock on the formula they use. 

"(One mom) could not find formula, her formula was estimated shipping would be three to four weeks, and she got on the app and was able to find breast milk for the four weeks that’s gonna be now missing," said Guerra. 

The app allows users to filter our specific qualities of preferences of breast milk. It then connects you with the donor via text to plan out how to make the milk exchange. 

"We’re having a ton of moms come out of the woodworks wanting to donate which means pump more, feed their babies more, and help a ton of other parents in need," said Guerra. 

There are also Facebook groups that parents can join to buy, sell, or trade breast milk, although Guerra said those groups usually come with restrictions. 

The Mothers Milk Bank of Austin (MMBA) tells KENS 5 they recently expanded a small volume of their supply of human donor milk to families impacted by formula shortages. MMBA is typically a service provided to babies with a medical need for human milk feedings. 

However, there is a form to fill out first. If your child meets the requirements, Executive Director Kim Updegrove said they will not need to pay for the milk supply. 

In a written statement, Updegrove said the milk bank is "desperate for more milk donors. The sudden increase in demand (approximately 30 additional families per week) is outpacing our supply of milk." 

Moms interested in donating can sign up for the screening process here. Updegrove said moms are interviewed for lifestyle and medical risk factors and sent for blood work to make sure it is safe for them to donate milk. Donor moms can be anywhere in the US. Once approved their milk is shipped to Mothers' Milk Bank at Austin for processing and dispensing.