Forest Lake Area School District encompasses more than 200 square miles in three counties — Anoka, Chisago, and Washington. With seven elementary schools, two junior highs, a senior high school and an Area Learning Center, the District is the largest worksite in the area, employing over 1,200 people.
With women comprising 76% of the workforce, Forest Lake Area Schools wanted to ensure nursing mothers returning to work had access to the space and resources needed to continue breastfeeding. Initially, supports were only implemented in Anoka County schools, but within a year, Forest Lake Area Schools made a commitment to implement breastfeeding supports district-wide.
Through the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP), breastfeeding kits were purchased, assembled, and distributed to each building in the District. At each location, a private space has been made available for nursing mothers that includes a padded chair and refrigeration for milk storage, along with breastfeeding kits which include disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer, and privacy signs. Providing a safe and clean environment, Forest Lake Area Schools hopes to create a supportive culture for breastfeeding employees. The kits have been well received by staff, who have shared that it’s been really nice to have a designated space to use and not worry about finding a private location. One employee stated, “I love that we have a safe and comfortable place for me to pump during the school day.”
This project has laid the groundwork for a strong collaboration between Anoka, Chisago, and Washington Counties that continues to flourish. The district has a thriving Employee Wellness Committee made up of representatives from Administration, each school, and the three counties. Through the collaboration, the district is able to work together towards a shared vision for both student and employee wellness, aligning strategies, action plans, and sharing resources district-wide.