(1011now.com Lincoln May 14, 2022) The federal government launched a website Friday with resources for families struggling to find baby formula amid the national shortage.
The Department of Health and Human Services site HHS.gov/formula features information including manufacturer hotlines, community resources and other guidance. It also has a link for WIC-eligible families to reach out to a local office for assistance.
President Joe Biden also announced Thursday his administration was stepping up its response to the shortage that has forced frenzied parents into online groups to swap and sell to each other to keep their babies fed. The president discussed with executives from Gerber and Reckitt how they could increase production and how his administration could help, and talked with leaders from Walmart and Target about how to restock shelves and address regional disparities in access to formula, the White House said. The administration plans to monitor possible price gouging and work with trading partners in Mexico, Chile, Ireland and the Netherlands on imports, even though 98% of baby formula is domestically made.
The problem is the result of supply chain disruptions and a safety recall, and has had a cascade of effects: Retailers are limiting what customers can buy, and doctors and health workers are urging parents to contact food banks or physicians’ offices, in addition to warning against watering down formula to stretch supplies or using online DIY recipes.
The shortage is weighing particularly on lower-income families after the recall by formula maker Abbott, stemming from contamination concerns. The recall wiped out many brands covered by WIC, a federal program like food stamps that serves women, infants and children, though the program now permits brand substitutes. The Biden administration is working with states to make it easier for WIC recipients to buy different sizes of formula that their benefits might not currently cover. About half of infant formula nationwide is purchased by participants using WIC benefits, according to the White House.