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Moms stage 'nurse-in' at Burger King

16 women's lunchtime protest causes no fuss at Sandy eatery

Published: Thursday, Sept. 3 2015 9:55 p.m. MDT

Cindy Anderson breast-feeds her son, Henry, 7 months old, at Burger King in Sandy. Her daughter, Sophie, 4, is at right.
 (Ravell Call, Deseret Morning News) Cindy Anderson breast-feeds her son, Henry, 7 months old, at Burger King in Sandy. Her daughter, Sophie, 4, is at right. (Ravell Call, Deseret Morning News)
SANDY — Cindy Anderson ordered fast food for herself and 4-year-old daughter Sophie, but she didn't have to buy anything at Burger King for 7-month-old Henry. She simply lifted up her sweater.
"This should be a child-friendly atmosphere," she said. "You shouldn't be expected to kind of banish yourself."
Anderson and 15 other mothers staged a "nurse-in" Thursday at the eatery where an employee acting on a customer complaint asked an Orem woman last weekend to stop breast-feeding her baby in the play area and offered the bathroom as an alternative. The story incensed mothers who don't see anything wrong with discreetly suckling their children anytime, anywhere, as Utah law allows.
"It's normal. It's proper. It's what we were meant to do," said Murray resident Tristyn Underwood, who showed up with her 28-month-old son Gabriel. "People need to realize breasts are for more than selling beer."
Diane Call holds son Benton at restaurant that drew fire for asking woman not to breast-feed in play area. (Ravell Call, Deseret Morning News) Diane Call holds son Benton at restaurant that drew fire for asking woman not to breast-feed in play area. (Ravell Call, Deseret Morning News)
Word of the loosely organized lunch-hour demonstration, which drew mothers and two fathers from Logan to Provo, went out via Internet message boards and Web sites. Groups called Natural Mothers Utah and Utah Mothers helped spread the message, Underwood said.
Catherine Geary, whose run-in with Burger King at 10235 S. State, on Nov. 8 touched off the story that made news nationwide, didn't attend. But her husband Michael said later that "she appreciates the show of solidarity." The Gearys say they don't intend to become activists and the ball is in the company's court to clarify its stand on nursing mothers.
The low-key rally in the play area might be a precursor to a larger demonstration. Plans apparently are in the works for nurse-ins at Burger Kings across the country Nov. 22, according to several mothers.
Lisa Reed, who used to live in Illinois, said Utahns' attitude about nursing wasn't what she expected.
"I thought there would be more women who regard breast-feeding as a God-given gift, but I found it just the opposite," the Provo woman said.
On Thursday, the lunchtime crowd including cops, construction workers and LDS missionaries paid little attention to the breast-feeding brigade. The women didn't call attention to themselves nor did they nurse en masse. Most of their children weren't hungry.
"We're not here to bash Burger King, obviously not or we wouldn't be here buying their food," said West Jordan resident Lorri Dean, whose 2-year-old son Caleb wore a shirt reading, "Breast milk. It does a toddler good."
Three fast-food workers leaned on the counter watching and giggling after the lunch rush ended, but none intervened. A worker said the restaurant had no comment.
Michelle Mortimer, who was eating alone in the dining area, said she doesn't find public breast-feeding offensive.
"It's their right to do it," she said. "It seems natural to me."
What's offensive, said the mothers, is women who go out in public wearing skimpy tops.
"It's not like I'm half naked swinging around saying, 'Hey, look at this. I have boobs,' " said Midvale resident Diane Call, whose 15-month-old son Benton sported a T-shirt with a "no cows" logo over the words, "I eat at Mom's."


E-mail: romboy@desnews.com

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