Baby Formula Shortage: Updates and Communities Stepping Up to Help*
By Cris Pearlstein & Donna Duarte Ladd
The baby formula shortage is unfortunately still going strong. Here at MommyBites we want to do everything we can to keep you updated and in the know every step of the way. We’ve put together a list of resources, news articles, social media groups, and real-time updates all to help you navigate this crisis.
*This is an ongoing story and we will be updating with more resources as they come in
The Hits Keep Coming
When one domino falls, you can hold your breath and hope that more will not tumble, but how the Domino Effect works is more will always follow. It’s physics. And like so many after-effects of the pandemic, parents are being struck the hardest, one hit after another. To the anguish of mothers and parents, the latest is the formula shortage.
Since those first weeks that the formula shortage started, all mothers are feeling the stress. Even if your child is beyond the baby stage this news has been triggering because we all know the struggle to feed a baby in normal circumstances can be challenging-this is a whole other level. Factor in food allergies and/or medical conditions that require a certain type of formula, and this crisis can feel tenfold.
We recently spoke with Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), who shared his concern about this crisis. Rep Suozzi shared that he has asked the Biden Administration to use Defense Production Act to invoke baby formula shortage. In a recent statement, the congressman asked Biden, “Raising a newborn is already a difficult and stressful job for any parent, but not being able to find the appropriate formula in this country is unacceptable. We need to immediately invoke the Defense Production Act to address this crisis and provide relief to struggling families.”
The Biden Administration listened, launching Operation Fly Formula on May 18, and invoking the Defense Production Act. The New York Post reports, “The airlift of formula from abroad in the interim…will feature the military using contracted civilian planes to ferry the product to the US after the FDA this week eased import rules, which is significant because about 98% of formula that was consumed domestically was US-made.”
On May 22 a shipment of 35 tons of baby formula landed in Indiana via Operation Fly Formula. The formula, which originated in Zurich, Switzerland, unfortunately won’t land on store shelves. A Biden administration official told CNN this shipment is hypoallergenic and will be fed to babies intolerant of protein in cow milk. According to CNN, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said it would be enough to feed 9,000 babies and 18,000 toddlers for one week.
Whether you breastfed, relied on formula, are doing one or the other now, or even a combination of the two, we’re seeing moms all over the tri-state area taking matters into their own hands. With no significant government or outside help available just yet, parents are organizing through social media-Facebook groups and Instagram feeds are popping up everywhere in an effort to help families buy, sell, and trade formula. The goal of most of these groups is to match up the parents that need with the families that have-and also alerting each other when and where they see products on shelves.
- babyformulaexchange.com—created by former olympian Shawn Johnson East (@shawnjohnson) and her husband. When you go on the site it asks if you HAVE or NEED formula, from there you answer questions regarding the brand, type, etc (they only accept unopened + unexpired formula). The idea is to connect moms to both have and need.
- Moms Helping Moms: Formula Shortage Donations Facebook Group—started by Karrie Locher (@karrie_locher), it’s a private group with 9.5K members and growing. The idea is to connect moms to each other who both have and need formula. The platform is strictly for exchange and relies on the integrity of its members. She has someone helping with admin to manage logistics and keep an eye on the community for scammers.
- WAG Women’s Action Group of Forest Hills Facebook Group—they are collecting donations of formula and breastmilk in order to host a drive at CommonPoint Queens (formerly the Y). We will share on this drive as soon as we are provided with the information.
- GoPuff App—a service that delivers all your daily essentials right to your door; they have hundreds of locations nationwide and they house their products in their own warehouses so everything comes directly from them (they keep stock of over 4,000 items in each location). They have formula IN STOCK at many of their locations-Similac Advance is available to be delivered to Forest Hills, Queens and the same was available for delivery in Greenpoint, Brooklyn along with Nutramigen Hypoallergenic, and Similac Advance Ready To Feed. The delivery fee is as low as $2.95 and many Chase credit cards offer benefits/credits to cardholders (when you sign up you will see a list of valid cards that offer this).
- Baby Formula Swap and Search: Parents Helping Parents Facebook group—currently has 379 members but growing; members are mostly from the tri-state area, but there are many up and down the east coast, too; people posting swaps, trades, donations, but also they are posting real-time updates of when they see formula on the shelves of stores; people are offering to buy for one another, too!
- FreeFormula.Exchange—started by Keiko Zoll, a mom, writer, non-profit comms professional, and progressive activist living in Massachusetts; it’s a free-to-use nationwide mutual aid network connecting families who need baby formula with families that have some to spare; the goal is to distribute formula for free to the people who need it most; she also provides two online letters you can send directly to your members of Congress with the ease of a text, head to the site for details.
- North Porch Women & Infants’ Centers—a 501c based in New Jersey whose mission is to help provide critical supplies for babies and toddlers in need; they have formula available but are having difficulties adding to their stock; parents in need of formula can contact one of their five centers directly to schedule a pick up; to find the center closest to you check out the link here.
- LittleEssentials.org—located in Brooklyn, this 10-year-old non-profit is committed to helping at-risk families by partnering with shelters, social service agencies, and other community orgs to get them the goods they need to distribute to the families that need them most; we have reached out to them for more info and will update as information comes in!
- NYCMammasGiveBack.org—a network of mothers dedicated to improving the life of NYC-area families; all donations can be dropped off or mailed to 601 W 26th St Suite M206 NY, NY 10001; we have reached out to them for more info and will update as information comes in!
Steps by Biden Administration on WIC/Baby Formula Shortage:
- USDA is urging states to allow WIC recipients to use their WIC benefits on a wider variety of products so that if certain sizes or types of formula are out of stock, they can use their benefits on those that are in stock. And, USDA is urging states to relax their requirements that stores keep a certain amount of formula in stock. SOURCE
- Calling on the FTC and State Attorneys General to Crack Down on Any Price Gouging or Unfair Market Practices Related to Sales of Infant Formula. SOURCE
- Increasing the Supply of Formula Through Increased Imports. SOURCE
- HHS Launched a website to help families in need and provide them guidance. SOURCE
- “Baby formula intended for other countries could be made available in the U.S. in an attempt to ease the ongoing shortage, the Food and Drug Administration told CNN Monday.