Mother’s milk on the menu

The Herald (South Africa) - - FRONT PAGE - Nico Gous

Breast-feeding in pub­lic is a touchy sub­ject in South Africa‚ with some peo­ple be­liev­ing they have a right to com­plain or try to pre­vent moms from feeding their ba­bies in fulll view of oth­ers.

Restau­rant chain Spur is lead­ing the fight against the mo­ral po­lice by ac­tively en­cour­ag­ing breast-feeding at its branches.

“Spur is a fam­ily-friendly restau­rant‚ which places a great amount of em­pha­sis on fam­i­lies‚ es­pe­cially chil­dren, hence breast-feeding is wel­comed at Spur‚” its of­fi­cial pol­icy says.

Happy cus­tomer Chantell Wit­ten shared a pho­to­graph of Spur’s breast-feeding pol­icy on Face­book on Mon­day.

The pol­icy ac­knowl­edges that breast-feeding plays an im­por­tant role in early child­hood de­vel­op­ment.

“No-one may ask women to cover up the act of breast-feeding‚ or ask women to breast­feed in a des­ig­nated area [dif­fer­ent] to the area they have cho­sen,” it says.

Spur has told all its restau­rants to dis­play the “breast­feed­ing wel­come” sign in a prom­i­nent place to ensure that women do not feel they need to seek per­mis­sion.

It ad­vises staff: “If the restau­rant is busy and/or too loud‚ please pre­pare a quiet‚ se­cluded spot with suit­able seat­ing which women may choose as a breast-feeding spot‚ should they want. No-one may co­erce or in­sist that women breast­feed in this quiet spot.”

Spur’s open-minded pol­icy on breast-feeding has not al­ways been in place‚ how­ever.

Com­ment­ing on so­cial me­dia‚ Samantha Ferns re­called an ear­lier‚ “aw­ful” ex­pe­ri­ence at Spur that made her scared to breast-feed in pub­lic again.

“My very hun­gry twins must have been eight weeks old and I thought Spur would be an OK place to feed (cov­ered up),” she wrote. “I had eight wait­resses want­ing to watch and harass me. It was very trau­matic for a new mom.”

Spur spokesper­son Moshe Apleni said its pol­icy was im­ple­mented in Jan­uary 2016.

“Women are law­fully per­mit­ted to breast-feed a child in pub­lic in South Africa‚” he said.

Spur chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer Mark Far­relly said SA could only grow by ad­dress­ing its de­vel­op­ment chal­lenges.

“By nor­mal­is­ing breast-feeding in our restau­rants‚ we play our small part in con­tribut­ing to the de­vel­op­ment of fu­ture lead­ers‚” he said.

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