This Mom Was Refused a Grocery Store Parking Space for Buying Formula

Could this store be TOO supportive of breastfeeding?
ByAnisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Nov 2016
Illustration of a can of infant formula and scoop
Photo: Shutterstock

“Breast is best,” you’ve heard it a thousand times. But not all moms can breastfeed, and there should never be a penalty because of it. That’s why one mom is particularly disheartened by her local grocery store’s reaction to her formula purchase, which included withholding her parking privileges and comparing formula to cigarettes.

Essex, England mom Laura Leeks purchased infant formula, and nothing else, at the popular grocery store Tesco in the UK, where promoting formula for babies under 6 months is prohibited by a very pro-breastfeeding Department of Health. According to Leeks, this particular Tesco took that law to the extreme, refusing to issue her a parking permit because the company “supports breastfeeding and cannot endorse formula feeding by rewarding customers.” (For reference, Tesco patrons are typically allowed to park at the store for up to two hours if they spend at least £5, the equivalent of about $6.)

Leeks adds that Tesco staff drew a parallel between formula and cigarettes, informing her that they also “do not endorse smoking” and don’t give parking vouchers to customers who purchase tobacco products.

What Tesco doesn’t know, however, is that Leeks’s baby can’t be breastfed because of his health; the 5-month-old baby had open heart surgery at 4 weeks old and can’t tolerate the fat content of breast milk.

Leeks relayed this information to Tesco in a since-deleted Facebook post.

“I am delighted that you as a company support breastfeeding. However, I cannot accept that your policies lead to your staff shaming women who for whatever reason are using baby formula,” she wrote. “My superhero baby is now nearly 5 months old and fighting fit. I remain said that I could not solely breastfeed him. However, I am reassured that due to the nutritious formula he is happy, healthy and growing well. I do not, however, need to be ‘guilt-tripped’ by a Tesco employee who has absolutely no knowledge of my circumstances.”

That last sentiment is something we all should be more cognizant of when discussing formula feeding; typically, we have no knowledge of a particular mother’s circumstances.

Tesco, for now, remains opposed to adjusting the policy. “We always strive to provide the best possible service for our customers and we understand Ms Leek’s request,” a spokesperson told The Sun. “However, due to UK law we cannot promote baby formula in any way, including the offering of a parking voucher.”

H/T The Sun

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