More than two dozen mothers staged a breastfeeding “nurse-in” at a Starbucks Corp. store in Maryland over the weekend in an effort to get the world’s largest coffee shop chain to adopt a policy allowing breastfeeding in all its U.S. stores.
Lorig Charkoudian, who organized the event, said on Tuesday that she began her quest a month ago when she was nursing her 15-month-old daughter at the store in Silver Spring, Md., and was asked by a Starbucks employee to cover up with a blanket or breastfeed in the bathroom.
She protested and, after eventually reaching the regional vice president, got Seattle-based Starbucks to recognize a Maryland law that allows mothers to breastfeed their children in public.
Starbucks spokeswoman Audrey Lincoff said in a statement that the coffee chain “quickly apologized for her negative experience” and reminded employees at its Maryland stores to comply with the law.
Charkoudian argues that Starbucks should go a step further and allow breastfeeding at all its 5,882 coffee shops in the United States.
“While Starbucks does not have a formal policy regarding mothers breastfeeding babies within our stores, we welcome nursing mothers to our stores," Lincoff said in a prepared statement. ”Starbucks complies with all applicable state and local laws regarding breastfeeding.”
Fast-food chain Burger King adopted a policy late last year allowing breastfeeding in all its restaurants, after being faced with a similar protest in Utah.
About 20 states have laws protecting the rights of mothers to breastfeed in public.
“Ultimately every ... state should have a law,” said Charkoudian, “We want Starbucks to set a precedent and be a leader, since it is a leader with a claim to being socially conscious.”