SM Cares advocates safe spaces for breastfeeding moms with Free to Feed initiative

SM Cares, the Corporate Social Responsibility arm of SM Supermalls, culminated its National Breastfeeding Month awareness campaign with a forum and announcement of winners of the Photography contest “Free to Feed: Championing Safe Spaces for Breastfeeding at SM” campaign.

Present in the SM City North Edsa culminating activity were (L-R): Nutritionist-Dietitian of the Quezon City Health Department Alexandra L. Cuyugan; BG Marie Tendencia-Valencia, photographer and judge; Abie Co-Floreza, President of Breastfeeding Pinays; Emerenciana L. Francia, Nutrition Officer III and Trainer on Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) from the National Nutrition Council; Dr. Beverly Lorraine Ho, DOH Assistant Secretary for Public Health Services; Alice Nkoroi, Nutrition Manager of UNICEF Philippines; and Atty. Pearly Joan Jayagan Turley, SM Cares Program Director for Women. Rosalie Dagulo, DSWD Deputy Program Manager for Operations also joined as a panelist.

Winners of the Free to Feed photo contest were 1st: Angelo Clement T. Yap with his  “Nurturing Bonds: A Mother’s Love and the Gift of Breastfeeding” picture, followed by “Safe Haven” from Reu Dawner A. Flores and “SM: A Safe Space, Anytime, Anywhere” from John Ray Panes. Featured mothers were Jennifer J. Macoco, Robella Joyce E. Flores and Karen Kate Sally A. Susmiran, respectively.

Over 100 photos of breastfeeding mothers were featured throughout the mall roadshow and online Free to Feed photo exhibit. Featured here are the L-R: 1st, 2nd, 3rd place winning photos.

SM Cares also conducted breastfeeding sensitivity training for nearly 5,800 mall frontliners  during the World Breastfeeding Week. Free to Feed fora and exhibit roadshows were held in SM malls in Davao, Pampanga, Dasmarinas and Iloilo. To further educate the public on the needs of breastfeeding mothers, the exhibit showcased a breastfeeding station mock-up and tips on workplace and family support according to Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), International Labor Organization (ILO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) guidelines.

The SM Cares Program for Women advocates for breastfeeding and encouraging the public to create safe and welcoming spaces for mothers to breastfeed their babies wherever they may be.

“By capturing how mothers can breastfeed openly today, be it through the lens of the camera or through dialogue, we can better create an inclusive experience that welcomes the role of families, colleagues and the general public as a whole in making such a journey a successful one,” said SM Cares Program on Women and Breastfeeding Mothers Program Director and SM Supermalls AVP for Corporate Compliance Atty. Pearl Jayagan Turley. “The exhibit and forum reflect our dedication to nurturing the spirit of togetherness and empathy that defines SM Cares. Together, we can create a world where every mother feels supported, empowered, and free to feed her child.”

The SM Cares Free to Feed Forum was supported by the Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare and Development, National Nutrition Council, UNICEF Philippines, breastfeeding advocate groups and Local Government Units

The Free to Feed initiative was developed in line with SM Cares’ Program on Women and Breastfeeding Mothers. The project supports the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, particularly “SDG 2: Zero Hunger” and “SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being”. The exhibit will remain open to the public at SM City North EDSA until September 2.

The Free to Feed campaign highlights lactation stations in support of breastfeeding mothers, according to global guidelines and Republic Act 10028. SM malls have provided breastfeeding stations to customers and employees since 2006, welcoming over 1 Million mothers to date.