Monday, April 5, 2010

Old Country Buffet calls police on breastfeeding mother

Over the weekend, a mother in Maplewood Minnesota was kicked out of Old Country Buffet for nursing her baby.  She was even attempting to do so discreetly, although the law protects a breastfeeding mother no matter how much breast and nipple is showing.  The police were called before she even had time to pack up her family and leave.  When she contacted their corporate office, they stood behind management's decision, claiming it is a "family restaurant".  

I hope others will join me in contacting Old Country Buffet and their local police department!  The mother and child's legal AND human rights were clearly violated and we cannot sit by silently and let this sort of ignorance continue.  We can speak out and demand that employees and law enforcers are better educated about their local breastfeeding laws.  I've included my own letters here for you to see, as well as the many ways you can contact them and help make a difference.  I encourage you to write, call, e-mail, fax, anything you are able to do!  I hear there will be a nurse-in organized, and will keep you posted as soon as I find out the time and details.  Some of their local papers have been contacted as well, and will apparently be running the stories soon.  

Dear Old Country Buffet-

I am deeply saddened to hear that one of your "family" restaurants (in Maplewood, MN) kicked a mother out simply for feeding her baby and that the police were even involved!  This is a violation of their legal rights, not to mention their human ones.  The Minnesota law clearly protects a mother and child's right to nurse in public and private:

"Minn. Stat. § 145.905 provides that a mother may breastfeed in any location, public or private, where the mother and child are authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother's breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breastfeeding.
Minn. Stat. Ann. § 617.23 specifies that breastfeeding does not constitute indecent exposure."

This incident is an embarrassment, and I will be boycotting your restaurants and spreading the word until an official apology is made, as well as efforts to make employees in ALL your locations aware of a mother and child's legal rights to not be harassed for breastfeeding.

When the victimized mother called your corporate offices to complain, she was told that management did the right thing because it is a "family restaurant".  Perhaps if mothers and children are not welcome, your establishment should be labeled as "bachelor-friendly" instead.  You can count my household as four less customers until you are truly "family" friendly.


A mother that refuses to let babies starve while everyone else pigs out.

Dear Maplewood Police,

I am aware of a recent incident in which a mother was nursing her baby at your local Old Country Buffet.  I understand that you were contacted and even sided with the restaurant. Perhaps your officers are not aware of the laws in your own state?

"Minn. Stat. § 145.905 provides that a mother may breastfeed in any location, public or private, where the mother and child are authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother's breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breastfeeding.
Minn. Stat. Ann. § 617.23 specifies that breastfeeding does not constitute indecent exposure."

The citizen's legal rights should have been protected, not further violated by your involvement, and I am saddened that this was not accomplished by your department.  I hope that this reminder will be helpful, and that you'll apologize to the family you wrongly harassed.  People all over the country will be waiting to hear how you handle this, I'm sure you'll do the right thing and that the officers involved are not a reflection of how your whole department operates.


Someone that believes innocent women and children deserve equal protection and respect from law enforcement

Facebook Boycott page: (HERE)

You can contact Old Country Buffet on their website here:

You can write to or call the Maplewood Minnesota location here:
3000 White Bear Avenue
Maplewood, MN 55109
(651) 779-1958

You can write to or call Old Country Buffet corporate offices here:
1020 Discovery Road Suite 100, Eagan, MN 55121
Phone: 651-994-8608 Fax: 651-365-2356
Guest Relations: 800-871-0956

Maplewood Police Department:
Phone: (651) 249-2600
Fax: (651) 249-2699

The Minnesota laws about breastfeeding, if you wish to reference them when contacting Old Country Buffet or the Maplewood Police Dept:

Minn. Stat. § 145.905 provides that a mother may breastfeed in any location, public or private, where the mother and child are authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother's breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breastfeeding.
Minn. Stat. Ann. § 617.23 specifies that breastfeeding does not constitute indecent exposure.


Nickname unavailable said...

I just emailed their corporate office, I hope they get spammed with a million emails about this! I can't believe them!

Anonymous said...

Iam very interested in how both parties respond. Cannot believe this day and age that this happened...

Anonymous said...

I emailed their corporate office too. I like what your doing right now to help uphold what is right and a basic human right for both mother and daughter.

Beck said...

Thats a fantastic letter to both the restuarant and the police station. Its sad that people are not educated enough to know that breasfeeding a baby is not the same as stripping off and flinging your boobs around. It makes me so angry. I'm currently breastfeeding my 1yr old and haven't been told to leave anywhere because of it but it has happened too many times to other people here in Australia. I really wish people were better educated about this and I really hope that a breastfeeding sit in is organised at that particular restuarant :) only wish i could make it.

Lilly Rose said...

Your letter was so good, I mostly copy/pasted it, adding in that they are now officially less family friendly than Hot Topic (which I was kicked out of two years ago for nursing, but within 24 hours had an apology from the VP as well as a change in all store policies to inform managers about nursing mothers' rights to breastfeed in their stores like anywhere else--it was very well handled).

D said...

This saddens me and I've helped to spread the word...

Anonymous said...

WOW This reminds me of the false retraction advice people hand out like candy.

Why the heck would a corporation spit out a garbled message guaranteed to give them poor publicity and make them liable? I guess some people still haven't heard of the internet and yet.

Christian Prochoicer said...

Is it alright if we use your same letter, and just change our name?

Woman Uncensored said...

Yes, you may copy my letter :-)

Not sure why only some of the comments are showing up, but one of you asked about it!

Angealika said...

I contacted the Maplewood location. My letter was not quite as nice as yours though. I told them I was going to trash them several times a day on my Facebook feed until they rectify the situation.

Kellieandkids said...

According to this article, they were asked to leave only because they "casused a commotion"

Ummm, duh, they were causing a commotion because the restaurant was violating their civil rights.

What morons....that really peeves me off. Maegan said...

wow's unbelievable really.

newincs said...

Dear Sir,

I am deeply appalled and offended that some of your officers who obviously do NOT know your state laws have escorted a breastfeeding mother off of the premises of Old Country Buffet on Easter Sunday. I realize your department has received MANY emails regarding this situation but lets look at this from another standpoint.

Breastfeeding babies have the right to nurse anywhere and anytime that they are hungry! Children have a RIGHT to their mother’s breastmilk. They have a RIGHT not to go hungry while mom and family finish their meals so they can leave to nurse. Children have a RIGHT to not be starved while out in public. Children have a RIGHT not to be forced to drink from a bottle when Mother is right there and available! Children have a RIGHT not to be forced to drink chemicals parading as baby milk!

This infant was doing nothing more than eating, just like everyone else in that facility was doing!

Your laws for Minnesota are as such :
"Minn. Stat. § 145.905 provides that a mother may breastfeed in any location, public or private, where the mother and child are authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother's breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breastfeeding.
Minn. Stat. Ann. § 617.23 specifies that breastfeeding does not constitute indecent exposure."

This clearly states that the mother and child were violating NO law or statute!

I firmly believe that the father was loud only because and AFTER his child’s rights to eat were violated! The father would have NEVER gotten loud had those rights not been violated!!!

This incident is a violation of the rights of this child! This incident could quickly change the decision of future mothers on the breastfeeding issue. Mothers who see other mothers discriminated against may decide to bottle feed because if they don’t the POLICE will come and get them!!! This will lead to more sick babies, higher health costs and even adults who suffer because their mother’s did not breastfeed them! Breastfeeding sets the tone for LIFE LONG health!

I would LOVE to see this family given a formal written AND public apology! The officers VIOLATED the law by forcing the family to leave! What the officers SHOULD have done was to educate the manager and the employees of the law. The officers should have come out, done some quick community education and left.

I hope in the future the Minnesota police departments will all use their discreation to protect and serve the residents of Minnesota, not trample all over their rights!

Thank you so much for your time! I do appreciate you reading my letter and I hope that this can be rectified quickly and efficiently!

Holly D
Proud Breastfeeding Mother of child number SIX

Anonymous said...

a widely cited 2001 government report that said $3.6 billion could be saved each year if 50 percent of mothers breast-fed their babies for six months. Medical costs have climbed since then and breast-feeding rates have increased only slightly.

Anonymous said...

If 90% of US families could comply with medical recommendations to breastfeed exclusively for 6 months, the United States would save $13 billion per year and prevent an excess 911 deaths, nearly all of which would be in infants ($10.5 billion and 741 deaths at 80% compliance).

Conclusions Current US breastfeeding rates are suboptimal and result in significant excess costs and preventable infant deaths. Investment in strategies to promote longer breastfeeding duration and exclusivity may be cost-effective.

Anonymous said...

I'm getting offended by this. People who say that only sexually deviant internet predators are against women breastfeeding in public, you're just plain wrong. I'm a mother of three children, all of whom were breastfed, and I can say that never once did I feed my child while at a public place where I could be seen.
Yes, I did go to the bathroom to feed my children, and because i never first rubbed my breasts against the toilet bowl, my children never ingested fecal matter.
When I decided to have children, I made it my decision that I would try my hardest not to inconvenience others by my choice. That means if my meal gets cold so that my baby can eat, I'm fine with that, and I will go to a bathroom, or another discreet place to feed my baby. If my child starts crying, I will work my hardest to keep my child from crying, or to remove it from being around other people.
Women who think that they have this right to do something just because they have a baby infuriate me. Women who think they should be able to breastfeed in a crowded family restaurant are like the parents who allow their children to run about the movie theater, or let their kids cry, and expect that everyone should have to just deal with it because "kids are kids, what can you do?"

Katie said...

FYI, Ryan's, Hometown Buffet, and Country Buffet are all owned by the same company as Old Country Buffet. Keep that in mind when you choose restaurants to boycott.

ALH said...

Thank you Katie. I didn't know that. Helpful to know.

Julie said...

Uhhhh. I am so tired of people who "get offended" by a woman merely feeding her baby. To anonymous poster @ 8:46pm and everyone else who can't GET THEIR HEADS AROUND why someone would breastfeed their babies in public- you are helping to maintain the perception across western society that breasts are a commodity. I AM OFFENDED that people like you feel the need to spout nensensical drivel just because. Well, "just because" you felt the need to lock yourself away from the glare of the public eye while feeding your child, I and many other moms out there will not be forced into bathroom stalls, changing rooms, automobiles and the like because people like you cannot comprehend something so basic as a woman feeding her baby.
It truly is maddening, because really, we wonder why there is such a high rate of artificial feeding in the west- women are being scared into bathroom stalls to nurse their children. Seriously, it's about time people wake up or grow up- the sight of a woman breastfeeding her baby WILL NOT psychologically harm anyone. If you are worried about your kids and "Oh my, what should I tell them?" well tell them that a woman's breasts function as a resevoir for human milk and babies are supposed to drink human milk. Tell them that women's breasts also double as a comforting place for little ones, but tell them the truth. Breasts aren't scary; women shouldn't have to be made to feel ashamed or scared when they are breastfeeding their babies. But please, stop perpetuating the myth that breastfeeding is something "not to be seen."

Jenny Cyphers said...

"Women who think that they have this right to do something just because they have a baby infuriate me."

Oh that's classic! This woman didn't "think" she had the right, she knew she did, the law clearly states that she DOES have that right!

If someone else is offended by that right, they should avert their eyes. Most people don't like to be stared at while they eat anyway, even though a baby wouldn't care.

Anonymous said...

the lady that said she fed her baby in the bathroom is an idiot. i'm sorry, but would you want to eat in a bathroom? so what if a baby doesn't realize? it's still downgrading that baby. babies should have our rights too.

Ahmie said...

Anonymous who went to the public bathrooms to feed her babies so as not to "inconvenience" anyone around her - did it never occur to you that you're much MORE than just "inconvenient" when you're TAKING UP A TOILET STALL TO FEED YOUR CHILD! People have BLADDER CONTROL ISSUES and NEED THE DAMN TOILET. My second child has been toilet trained for just over a month, if I found out some idiot was taking up the stall for 20-30min to FEED their child in a way that delayed getting MY child onto the toilet there would have been more than some "verbally aggressive" behavior. I'm also physically disabled myself AND 8mo pregnant with my third child, if I caught someone like you in the HANDICAPPED STALL (where I'm betting you were because you felt "entitled" to the extra room while you didn't "inconvenience" anyone by being visible) preventing me from using the toilet in a timely manner because you were BREASTFEEDING in there, I might possibly brain you with my cane over it in a pregnancy-hormones-and-bladder-pain-induced rage in that moment.

You're violating HEALTH CODE LAWS when you prepare or serve food in a toilet stall, and even if you didn't "wipe your breast on the toilet first" your hand DID touch the stall door lock where people have to touch it BEFORE washing their hands AFTER wiping their anuses, so yeah, there's LOTS of bacteria in places other than the toilet. You touched that lock after people touched it with fecal matter on their hands, then used that same hand to open your bra and help your baby latch so yeah, your babies DID ingest fecal matter at some point or other - it's pretty much guaranteed if you actually did as you claim (my husband, reading the comment, is sure it was actually written by a man).

Personally, I think it's a horrible demonstration of how much one cares for their own children when they put the ASSUMED PREFERENCES OF TOTAL STRANGERS at a higher priority than the BASIC NEEDS OF THEIR OWN CHILD. What the hell is the world coming to???

Critical thinking skills are dead in this country, I swear.

Anonymous said...

Hi Woman, Uncensored, I left a comment yesterday informing you and your readers that the police did exactly what they were supposed to do in this situation, as it is a civil matter between the mother and OCB. I see you did not post it, I assume you saw it, as there is a pro-breastfeeding,anti-OCB comment posted after I left mine. I was very respectful, and it's very unfortunate indeed if you don't post comments that are not 100% your beliefs, causing your readers to remain ignorant about the issue I was informing you of.. I thought you weren't fans of ignorance?
In case you do decide to post this (though I will not hold my breath) I will recap yesterday's comment: The woman was only "authorized" to be at OCB until she was asked to leave. At that point, she was no longer authorized, and therefore, the police would have to make them leave. That's their job. If they'd have cited her, that would have been unlawful, but they didn't. I hope you understand that being an officer is a difficult job with many stereotypes and it does not make things easier to blame them for doing exactly what they were supposed to do. My bf is a cop of a neighboring town of Maplewood and I feel responsible to make sure you are only placing blame where blame is due. I'm not defending OCB, just the Maplewood Policemen who do NOT deserve letters telling them how to do their jobs.

Ahmie said...

Anonymous whose BF is a cop: so, if OCB decided to revoke "authorization" of a PAYING PATRON, in a place of public accomodation, to be there because they were... oh, I don't know... non-white - that'd be OK? OCB discriminated against a BABY and (surprise surprise) that angered the baby's father, who tried to defend his child and had the police called on him. If it was an interracial couple who were holding hands and made the manager uncomfortable, and when asked to not be affectionate in the same way a white couple was nearby got angry, then the police were called because their "authorization" to be there was revoked, would you defend that? How about if a person who had to eat through a feeding tube was at OCB with their family, and the sight of that individual was making the manager uncomfortable - are they allowed to be harassed and have the police called on them?

FWIW, I am, myself, physically handicapped, in an interracial marriage, AND about to birth my 3rd child after having breastfed my first two successfully to the W.H.O. guidelines - so all of these differences are personally important to me.

Anonymous said...

This is Anonymous Whose BF is a Cop responding to the comment following mine..
Yes. Even in those cases, the police would be doing their job. You see, public or private venue, it does not matter why you are asked to leave, if the police are called b/c they want you gone, the police will make sure you leave. That's how it is b/c like I said, it's a CIVIL matter. The polices' only authority is to make them leave (unless, someone becomes disorderly or otherwise breaks the law) Civil matter, meaning that the woman can hate or sue or do whatever she wants to OCB, but the police did what they were supposed to do.

Anonymous said...

I this is anon whos bf is a cop again, (if you could please post this as well, I need to clarify my response to Ahmie)
Clarification on the whole "authorized" verbage..I was referring to the breastfeeding statute which says that a woman in any authorized place can breastfeed. (I don't have the exact wording in front of me) I don't want you to be confused about that.

Ahmie said...

Anon with BF cop: I understand the "authorized" issue (I was part of getting a similar law passed in Ohio and argued about that verbiage - in some states it's more specifically a civil right issue, such as NY, and in Ontario it's in their human rights statutes).

Just wanted to be clear. Some people get confused because it's a "privately owned establishment" - it's also a "place of public accommodation". Police can (and should, and I'm sure are in most cases) be trained to handle such issues with sensitivity. Would your BF ask the complainer what the origin of the disturbance was, to know if the complainer was actually the instigator? Or does might make right? Having filed a discrimination complaint (disability related, before I was a mother) I can tell you with certainty that suing is NOT easy and it is very time, energy, and emotion consuming. Mothers should not have to go through that just to assert the right of their child to eat.

During the civil rights marches in the 60s, the police may have been within policy guidelines to have police dogs snarling and snapping at the protesters, which made the environment all the more hostile & volatile. How does history look upon those officers now? The situation can feel quite similar to a mom with a breastfed baby, who is afraid that if she stands up for her statutorily explicit rights, she might wind up spending time in jail with no access to her baby or a breast pump (yes, it's happened).

In this case, as the police were called because of a disturbance and right to being there revoked explicitly due to outright legally protected breastfeeding, they could have served the public good well by pointing out to the manager, while s/he was within rights to demand the family be removed from the property for any reason whatsoever, doing so for THIS reason was a legal slippery slope and the manager was violating state statute. I have also had encounters with police officers who can talk down people like this manager and help them see reason & sense, which could have potentially defused this entire thing. It doesn't sound like any attempt at that went on in this situation. If the police had made this family feel like they were doing their job as required but understood and sympathized with the injustice of what was going on, the story would have been different (and OCB corporate response likely would have been too). Instead, it seems this family had an ARMED escort off the property and felt alone and shamed. I, personally, tend to expect more of those sworn "to protect and serve."

All that being said, I didn't write the letter you were initially objecting to and wouldn't have worded it quite that way, though I well understand the passionate nature of it. I can understand the reaction you're having to it as someone who cares deeply and personally about our uniformed civil servants, and ones quite local to this occurrence. You are standing up for what you believe in and care about - just as this family tried to do. I also recognize, acknowledge, and appreciate your outright statements that you're not defending OCB. I do not think we are coming at this as opponents to each other, but sharing a civil discourse and I appreciate your perspective.

Anonymous said...


It is not the police officer's job to "talk down" the Manager. A 911 call was made. The officers got the call and they responded to it as they must do to all calls.

You are mistaken. There was no "armed escort" off the premises. The officers saw them in the parking lot and spoke with them after the couple had left on their own. Please remember that the police were not called for breastfeeding but for a belligerent and yelling couple. It is not within the scope of an officer's authority to determine the validity of why a customer is asked to leave, and therefore their "sensitivity" to the situation is irrelevant.

Stand up for your rights all you want. I would too in a second. But you are crossing the line into what constitutes disorderly conduct as soon as you begin to yell or use profanity with the intent to offend or disturb others. In this sense, the couple is not necessarily innocent because of this.

My bf is sitting right next to me and just read your previous comment. He says that while he fully agrees that the public should stand up for their rights it is not the job of the responding officers to stand up for the rights of the public for them.

It makes me sad and frankly a little angry that some of you plan to write a letter to the police department for this. Who do you call when you have an emergency and need help?...the same people the public is so quick to point the finger at. There is a lot of negativity and scrutiny towards police officers and those who love them simply because of the duties they are sworn to do. Believe it or not the police do not make the rules but they are EXPECTED to enforce them.

I appreciate you being respectful and I just hope that you and who ever reads this keeps in mind that the police by definition are a third and impartial party.

So please put down your pens (or keyboards) and make sure you are only sending letters to the people who deserve them.

The Deranged Housewife said...

I find seeing the way some people stuff their faces in those kinds of places (like the world's entire food supply is going to go up in smoke tomorrow if don't have 12 pieces of chicken, eight refills on soda and 3 pieces of pie, now!) way more offensive than seeing a mother FEED her baby.

Anonymous @ 8:46, the bathrooms you nursed in must have been cleaner than some I have seen, some of which weren't even fit to take a dump in, let alone feed a baby. What should we do? Sequester ourselves and our newborns inside all the time because they might get hungry? How are they, as helpless infants, or just hungry babies who can't yet feed themselves or eat table food, like 'kids running around a movie theater'? Can we *really* predict when a baby might get hungry? To be fair, let's tell formula feeding moms they have to sit on the friggin' toilet to feed their babies, too. Do you sit on the toilet while you eat? Why should your baby?

By the way, there were probably a few women dining there within that week that were exposing more cleavage than the nursing mother, but no one called the cops on them. Although someone should call the Fashion Police...

The Deranged Housewife said...

And if you never breastfed while out in public where "people could see," I'm wondering - what did you do with your other children? If I were somewhere with my kids, alone, and my babe needed to eat, what do I do? Leave my other children alone at the table while I go nurse the baby in the bathroom?

Another argument for locking myself up at home for the first six months, I guess.

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Imagine this is a dinner party. Differences of opinion are welcome but keep it respectful or the host will show you the door. If you're rude or abusive, your comment will be deleted. This is "Woman Uncensored" not "Random anonymous jackass that needs therapy Uncensored". Feel free to get your own blog and rant all you want there.

Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That's how we're going to be - cool. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation...

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