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Posted on Tue, Mar 23, 2010 : 11:19 a.m.

Health care bill establishes nursing mothers' right to pump; Senate to consider Child Nutrition Act

By Jen Eyer


Photo by Flickr user Daquella manera

Did you know that the health care bill President Obama is expected to sign today establishes the right for nursing mothers to pump at work?

Business & Legal Reports has a breakdown of how the legislation will affect employers. It says:

Breaks for Breastfeeding. The legislation would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act to require that employers provide unpaid breaks for employees to express breast milk. The legislation would also require that employers provide a private location for employees to have these breaks.

The measure applies to businesses with 50 or more employees.

In related child nutrition news, Senator Blanche Lincoln last week unveiled her version of the Child Nutrition Act, which the Agriculture Committee will take up this week. From All We Can Eat on the Washington Post:

Senate Agriculture Committee chairwoman Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) unveiled a bill to reauthorize child nutrition programs. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 would boost funding by $4.5 billion over 10 years. That's less than half of the $10 billion President Obama called for in his budget. But it would be the first time since 1973 that Congress has increased the federal reimbursement rate for school meals.

The bill would allocate $1.2 billion to increase the number of children receiving food, an effort to meet President Obama's pledge to end childhood hunger by 2015. The remaining $3.2 billion would be used to improve the quality of meals. This includes an extra 6 cents per meal per student for schools that meet new, stricter nutrition standards and funding for schools to establish school gardens and to source local foods.

The bill also would mandate that the Department of Agriculture develop nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools, not just what is served in the lunch line.

Some critics, however, say it's not enough. From Slow Food USA:

Lincoln’s draft boosts funding for child nutrition programs by $500 million per year, and includes stronger nutrition standards and some support for Farm to School programs. She called it a “record investment in child nutrition programs,” which is technically true - but only because Congress has consistently under-funded school meals in every Child Nutrition Act until now. It’s encouraging to see that there’s any new funding, but Lincoln’s draft only has half of the $1 billion proposed by President Obama, which isn’t enough to transform school lunch in a time when nearly 1 in 3 children is obese or overweight.

Jen Eyer is on the Community Team at She oversees the Parenting and Home & Garden sections, and writes feature stories, blog posts and opinion pieces. She can be reached at 734-623-2577 or



Wed, Mar 24, 2010 : 9:23 a.m.

krc cont'd: 40 years ago the breast pumps looked like bicycle horns with a little well in them. It took a long time to get even the smallest amount of milk, at best a tablespoon or so. The pumps nowadays are sophisticated electric numbers and get the job done quickly and efficiently. My daughter The Milk Machine, gets 8 oz at a time.


Wed, Mar 24, 2010 : 8:22 a.m.

My daughter's employer, a small salon in A2 lets her pump so she can bring her milk to me for my absolutely adorable 5 month old grandson. Every nursing mother should be allowed to pump.


Tue, Mar 23, 2010 : 2:45 p.m.

The FLSA mandates 15 minute unpaid breaks for every four hours worked, and it has for years.


Tue, Mar 23, 2010 : 1:17 p.m.

As a breastfeeding counselor who formerly worked in a state that did not even mandate employee breaks of any kind, I have to say this kind of legislation is needed. I constantly was counseling working mothers on various arguments they could use to attempt to convince their bosses that they should be allowed to pump-- none of them altruistic arguments, all of them things like "if you don't let me pump I'll get mastitis and be out of work for 3 days" type stuff to convince them employer that it was in the *employer's* interest to let the mom pump. Unfortunately the fact that this law only applies to employers with 50 or more employees means that not much will be accomplished, as most of the mothers who had these problems worked for small businesses doing things like cleaning, waitressing, secretarial work, etc.


Tue, Mar 23, 2010 : 11:12 a.m.

I can't imagine any boss that wouldn't allow a woman to pump. It doesn't take that long and we should all support our children.