Minnesota Breastfeeding Coalition
Hmong Breastfeeding Initiative

Pub niam mis yog yam uas zoo tshaj rau koj thiab koj tus menyuam.

Breastfeeding is best for you and your baby  

Equity Vision

The Minnesota Breastfeeding Coalition's shared vision is to see all mothers in our state have access to information and support which enables them to give the healthiest start in life to MN’s newest citizens, regardless of race, culture, or economic status.

October 1, 2019. For the latest news and activities, join us on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/hmongbfproject/

The Hmong video project is underway! Work groups have been meeting and filming will be taking place in September and October, 2019. Interested in participating? Have a breastfeeding story you'd like to share? 

Email hmongbf@gmail.com

Hmong breastfeeding project work group meeting

May 10th, 2019: Announcing the winners!

We held a photo and art contest to highlight breastfeeding in the Hmong community. Fan favorites on Facebook won $100 cash, random drawing awarded 2 $25 gift cards.  

March 5th, 2019:

The initiative held a day-long Equity Action Lab. The workgroup developed messages and identified activities to pursue during a 100 day sprint, including a photo contest and video project. Stay tuned!

Contact us for more information or to participate in the 100 day sprint.


Birth Outcomes and Breastfeeding among Minnesota's Hmong Women


Increase access to education about and practical support for breastfeeding for mothers, family and the community

Look beyond the mother to the people and systems that support her, such as prenatal care and education, doula support, hospital 
maternity care, and workplace, community, social, and family supports 

Educate family members, breastfeeding-friendly work sites and  childcare, peer support groups (Baby Cafes) and others

Image courtesy Hmong Cultural Center

Social Determinants in our work 

MN has diverse communities with different cultural perspectives of breastfeeding practices

Access to competent, culturally appropriate prenatal and postpartum healthcare can help with breastfeeding 

Healthcare providers’ training on breastfeeding 

Role of formula companies in undermining breastfeeding and disproportionate distribution to communities of color 

Minnesota through Hmong Eyes

The Hmong people are an ethnic group from southern China and Southeast Asian countries such as Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam. During the Vietnam War, the Hmong in Laos were recruited by the United States CIA and served as guerrilla fighters to combat the spread of communism in Asia. After the United States withdrew from Southeast Asia in 1975, many Hmong fled to Thailand to avoid government persecution due to their alliance with the United States. Many Hmong temporarily lived in refugee camps, and later returned to Laos, or immigrated to nations that accepted them. The first wave of Hmong refugees immigrated to the United States in 1975 and the last wave arrived in 2004. Today, the Twin Cities metropolitan area hosts the largest Hmong population in the United States, more than the next two largest (Fresno and Sacramento, CA) combined (Vang, 2008). In St Paul, one in ten residents is Hmong, the highest density of Hmong residents in the United States.


The first Hmong MN refugee families settled in North Minneapolis in 1975. Many Hmong refugee families also settled in St. Paul. Today, the Twin Cities hosts the largest concentration of Hmong in America. 


Hmong elders, adults, and children gather together at traditional ceremonies such as weddings, funerals, and religious events. Many Hmong also annually gather at the Hmong New Year celebration usually celebrated in late November-early December. The Hmong Freedom Festival is another popular annual event, hosted in July, that draw local and out-of-state Hmong populations. 

Hot Spots:

Local Hmong businesses and centers in Minnesota are popular places of gathering for local and out-of-state Hmong people. A few hot spots include Hmong Town and Hmong Village Shopping Centers, Long Cheng - Hmong Livestock & Meat Processing Plant, and the farmer's market (Hmong vendors). 

Local Hmong Organizations:

Local Hmong organizations in Minnesota communities provide support and resources for Hmong men, women, and families. The Hmong American Partnership (HAP) and Hmong 18 Clan Council are two of many prominent local Hmong organizations in Minnesota. 

Image courtesy Hmong Cultural Center

Workforce (American FactFinder, 2016):

Manufacturing, 31%

Educational services, and health care social assistance, 23%

Professional, scientific, and management, and administrative and waste management services, 12%

Retail trade, 9%


Farming and gardening plays an important role in the Hmong community. Before immigrating to the United States, the Hmong tilled, planted, and harvested their own food. Today, many Hmong Americans continue farming and gardening at local community gardens or on private property. Many Hmong Americans also sell their fresh produce at the farmers market, to restaurants, etc. 

Influential Leaders:

General Vang Pao: Served in Secret War; viewed as father figure by many Hmong

Senator Mee Moua (DFL): first Hmong American to serve as a senator in the Minnesota Legislature

Senator Foung Hawj (DFL): currently represents District 65, East St. Paul

Sophia Vuelo: first Hmong American judge to serve in MN 

Image courtesy Hmong Cultural Center

How we are planning the next stage of our work: 

Identify stakeholders to share perspectives/experiences on breastfeeding

Identify stakeholders, particularly those from the Hmong community, to participate in planning breastfeeding support projects 

Tapping into strong oral tradition 

Uncover champions and passions in Hmong community to lead breastfeeding initiatives 

Image courtesy Hmong Cultural Center

Image courtesy WIC Program

Our Strengths:

Strong connections with Hmong resources (health professionals, health coalitions, community members and leaders), Minnesota Breastfeeding Coalition, local coalitions, the University of Minnesota and non-Hmong healthcare providers

Already active in addressing breastfeeding disparities and improving supports and access to skilled care for new mothers 

Breastfeeding support approaches are different for each cultural group in MN – need cultural awareness and understanding of other factors that contribute to disparity 

Strong kinship and community connectedness in the Hmong community elevate resilience 



 Tell us about the factors that influence Hmong decisions around breastfeeding

Share your wisdom from living or working in the Hmong community

From Hmong communities in other states: what have you found and done to support families in your communities?

Assistance with outreach and education efforts

Technical assistance with grant writing

Share data and educate Hmong community and healthcare providers about the importance of breastfeeding and impact of low breastfeeding rates

Establish models for improving health outcomes that is community identified, developed, and implemented with as much contribution from the Hmong community 

Develop creative approaches to distribute information to the community

Collaborative partners

Hmong Health Care Professionals Coalition

University of Minnesota Community Health Initiative

Our Team

Linda Kopecky Minnesota Breastfeeding Coalition

Linda Dech WIC Program Peer Coordinator 

Tiffany Pao Yang UMN, Twin Cities Graduate Student

Marcia McCoy WIC Program Research Scientist II

Mary B. Johnson WIC Program Breastfeeding Coordinator 

Pa Houa Shasky Ramsey County Public Health SHIP Program