Monday, August 22, 2011

A huge Thank You to everyone who came out to show your support this weekend! It was great to see everyone here in Salt Lake, and all the pictures from across the country. I can feel the winds of change blowing, and I know one day it will not be a strange sight to see a woman nourishing her child naturally at her breast. Thank you again for your support!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Hello everyone,

I am very encouraged by the statements made yesterday by Whole Foods Market in the Salt Lake Tribune article:

“'The bottom line is some people made some mistakes and we have addressed that internally,' said Libba Letton, a Whole Foods spokesperson. 'This nurse-in is a great way to bring attention to an important issue.'

If Love returns to Whole Foods and nurses her son, she will not be asked to cover herself, Letton said. A complaining customer would be told about the policy.”

This is something I have been asking for clarification on for some time. I believe that employee training on how to handle complaints without confronting breastfeeding families is a crucial step in order for a policy to be effective.

Before this article was released, the only details I was given by Whole Foods Market on the policy were that it would consist of this statement, "Whole Foods Market welcomes and supports breastfeeding mothers." This concerned me because in the initial responses that I and others received, Whole Foods Market claimed to 'support breastfeeding' and also defended the actions of its employees against my family as 'appropriate.”

While I truly appreciate the apologies that Whole Foods Market has made since then, I think it is important to follow through to ensure that an effective policy is implemented.

I am asking Whole Foods Market to provide updates on the policy via an easily accessible venue such as their website or blog, so that if families are confronted by employees or customers in the future, they will know that their concerns will be taken seriously by Whole Foods Market.

I know that until a formal policy is implemented, our family will not be contributing to this corporation's monetary gain.

Thank you, everyone, for your support! It has been a tremendous encouragement after such an overwhelmingly awful experience. I look forward to gathering together in person and spirit with you tomorrow!

~ Angelina Love

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

If Whole Foods Market Wants To Support Breastfeeding...

Below is the most recent email from Libba Letton, dated July 29, 2011.  Also, below is the response letter I sent to her today, explaining the problem with how Whole Foods Market is approaching resolution of this issue and what they need to do if they want to truly illustrate a dedication to supporting breastfeeding families.  

We welcome your thoughts.  Please join us on facebook!

Response letter to Libba Letton:

Friday, July 29, 2011

Further Discussions and Official Requests

I had a phone conversation with Libba Letton of Whole Foods Market last Thursday, July 21st, and we have exchanged several emails since that time.  I am posting below the three emails in which we discussed this situation (with personal information redacted).  Below the emails is the letter which I sent yesterday to Libba in which I outline my continued concerns and requests for steps that I believe are important for Whole Foods Market to take in order to show that they are truly dedicated to showing support for all breastfeeding mothers in their stores around the country.  (Sorry for the extra space before the first email; it was necessary for formatting purposes.)

Libba's email to me on Friday, July 22, 2011:

My response to her of that same day:

Libba's response of Monday, July 25, 2011:

Finally, in light of everything that has happened to date, here is the two-page letter I sent yesterday (Thursday, July 28, 2011).  I hope to have a positive response from Whole Foods Market soon.

Page 1:

Page 2:

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Responses from Whole Foods Market and Next Steps

We have received two letters from representatives of Whole Foods Market. 

The following letter from Whole Foods, which spells my name wrong and is signed by the store manager of the Trolley Square location in Salt Lake City, Utah, is dated July 5th but was not sent until July 11, 2011 (the day by which I had asked to have a response to my letter).  (I have removed my mailing address and the store employee's name from the body of the letter.)

There was apparently a post office error and I did not receive the letter until today.  Whole Foods' position, as described in this letter, is wholly unacceptable.  In spite of the fact that Whole Foods has stores in states that protect (and provide an enforcement provision for such protection) women's right to breastfeed in any public or private location in which they otherwise have a right to be, this letter seems to indicate that Whole Foods believes that they are fully justified in allowing store employees in states without such laws to freely confront breastfeeding women as they see fit.

In this television news piece that aired last night, the reporter stated that the Whole Foods representative who was interviewed “insists the workers who confronted Angelina did not violate store policy—just tried to make everyone happy.”  According to this statement, it appears that Whole Foods does not have a corporate policy to ensure that its employees do not harass nursing mothers, which means that this situation could easily happen again in any Whole Foods location.

However, the following letter from Whole Foods, dated July 20, 2011 (yesterday) appears to offer hope for a positive resolution to this situation.  It is from Libba Letton, who has engaged positively in the discussion on our Facebook page, and who appears to be supportive of policy changes to ensure that breastfeeding mothers are truly welcomed and supported within Whole Foods.  (I have also removed contact information from this letter.)

Given the conflicting messages that have been conveyed by different Whole Foods representatives, we believe even more strongly that if Whole Foods Market is to continue to ethically maintain its claimed commitment to healthy living, it needs to take the initiative to immediately create, publicly distribute, and include in its employee handbook a clear policy affirming its support of breastfeeding women in its stores.  This should include appropriate, consistent, and positive responses for similar situations in the future, as well as a commitment to training all current and future employees on the policy. 

This is an opportunity for Whole Foods Market to affirm its own slogan of “Whole Foods, Whole People, Whole Planet” (TM) and to show that it does in fact wish to support women who are feeding their babies the perfect “whole food”—human milk.

We are in the process of composing a detailed response to Ms. Letton.  We will post it here at the same time that we send it to her.  We are also discussing ways to expand our efforts to illustrate to Whole Foods the benefits of taking a clear position on this issue.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Whole Foods Market Discriminates Against Breastfeeding

On June 17, 2011, my husband and I were harassed by a manager and several other employees of the Whole Foods Market in Trolley Square, Salt Lake City, Utah, simply because I was breastfeeding our son.  I was appalled at how I was treated, but I decided to give Whole Foods an opportunity to make the situation right before taking any public action.  I faxed and mailed a letter on June 22nd to their national and regional offices, as well as to the store in which the harassment occurred (a copy of the letter is below with employee names removed for privacy).  I asked for a response by July 11, 2011, but I did not receive any communication whatsoever (much less an apology) from anyone with Whole Foods.

During the confrontation, I was informed by a manager that Whole Foods has no policy supporting breastfeeding within its stores, which is disturbing given Whole Foods' consistent marketing of itself as being dedicated to healthy living.  I also subsequently discovered that although Utah law protects breastfeeding mothers from being criminally charged for obscenity or lewdness, Utah has no protections for nursing mothers from being discriminated against or even asked to leave private establishments simply because they are breastfeeding.  

This has to change.  We are dedicated to the implementation of a law in Utah protecting breastfeeding mothers and their babies, as well as to the implementation by Whole Foods of a policy (including training of its employees) supporting breastfeeding within its stores.  

We welcome your ideas and support.

We are currently in the process of planning a national nurse-in at Whole Foods locations around the country.  Please
Join our Facebook Page
and check back here for updates! 

Below is a copy of the letter I sent to Whole Foods, to which they have not responded:


Whole Foods Market, Inc.
550 Bowie Street
Austin, TX  78703-4644

June 22, 2011
On June 17, 2011, my family and I made a visit to Whole Foods Market at Trolley Square at 544 South 700 East in Salt Lake City, Utah.  As we were walking through the store, a Whole Foods employee, C______W______, approached me and asked if she might speak with me.  I was breastfeeding my child at the time, and she asked me if I “would not mind covering up” because she had "received some complaints and some people were offended by it.” It was highly inappropriate and deeply offensive of her to accost me in this way, and I told her so and asked to speak with her manager.  She informed me that she was the night supervisor and repeated that she was only asking because someone had complained to her. 

My husband then explained to her that it was my legal right to breastfeed our child.  Indeed, several Utah statutes clearly state that the breastfeeding of a child—whether or not the breast is covered—is not an indecent, obscene, or lewd act (e.g., Utah Code Ann. § 76-10- 1229.5).  However, your employee ignored my husband's statement and continued to maintain her claim that she was only looking out for the best interests of all customers which, apparently, did not include my family.  At this point, a security guard (apparently working at the store through Whole Foods' contract with Centurion) standing behind Ms. W_______, claimed, "More people are offended by it than not," and stated, "Look, we just don't want you doing it."  I asked him if he had any statistics on who was offended; he ignored my question.

From there, two other employees, L______ and C______ were called in by Ms. W______, to assist in the discussion.  They offered cursory apologies to me and suggested alternative locations within the store where I might choose to nurse, blatantly denying the stigma that they were imposing upon my family.  It is disheartening that, especially in a retail establishment that prides itself on encouraging and enabling healthy living, a child receiving nutrition and immune system protection as nature intended is considered somehow unsightly and a nursing mother is pressured to cover up or hide herself to avoid “offending” others.

In light of the recent Surgeon General's Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding, which describes the crucial importance of supporting nursing mothers within society (see pages 12, 18, and 19) and the serious, documented health problems caused by not breastfeeding, your staff's actions were all the more inappropriate.

This highly embarrassing situation could have been avoided entirely if your associate had only explained to the allegedly offended parties the obligations that she and Whole Foods Market are under in respecting my right to breastfeed my child.  During the discussion, I asked C______ what Whole Foods Market's policy was regarding breastfeeding within the store; her appalling response was to laugh at me and comment condescendingly, “I've never heard of a policy about breastfeeding!”  It is clear that your employees lacked the training they needed to effectively handle this situation.

My family was humiliated for more than 30 minutes while other patrons gawked and whispered, all due to the night manager's contradictory claim of trying to create “a family place for young children.”  Previously I have made bi-weekly visits to your establishment, happily purchasing most, if not all, of my family's meals, a practice I am now reconsidering after this disturbing experience.

In light of this, and in light of the fact that Whole Foods has stores in states that not only specifically exclude breastfeeding from obscenity laws but explicitly prohibit discrimination against breastfeeding mothers, I ask that you agree to implement a policy that clearly supports breastfeeding mothers within your establishment.  This policy should include training for all staff members on the importance and biological normalcy of breastfeeding.  Additionally, by displaying breastfeeding welcome signs throughout your store, you will further communicate to patrons that Whole Foods Market welcomes and supports breastfeeding mothers.

If Whole Foods Market is going to ethically maintain its commitment to healthy living, then it needs to support breastfeeding, not degrade those who are trying to do the best they can for their children.

Please let me hear from you by July 11, 2011, as to your plans regarding moving forward with instituting such a policy.

Angelina Love 

cc: Whole Foods Market, Inc.
1821 30th Street, Unit A
Boulder, CO  80301
Fax:  (303) 938-8963

Whole Foods Market, Inc.
544 South 700 East
Salt Lake City, UT  84102
Fax:  (801) 990-0037