As formula shortage worsens, situation becomes political

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — New York State leaders, and the White House, are promising action to deal with a scary shortage of baby formula.

The situation picked up as the COVID-19 pandemic did but it’s become critical in recent weeks.

“We don’t have one can left of the Enfamil Gold,” declared Maria Wehrle at the Rochester nonprofit Mothers in Need of Others (MINO).

Enfamil Gold is normally the most popular type of baby formula but is increasingly scarce.

At MINO, the crisis is a daily issue. The group helps families looking for supplies and baby formula has become frighteningly rare.

There was COVID-19, then the nationwide supply chain problems, parents stockpiling for their babies and now the massive recall and shutdown of a formula manufacturer because of dangerous bacterial contamination.

“All of those things created a perfect storm,” Wehrle said. “And now we’ve got a situation here where people are going without and they’re really scared.”

New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R, 21), who’s a mom herself, joined other Republicans in demanding the Biden Administration and the FDA do more to work with manufacturers and get formula into the stores.

“Babies have been put to bed hungry,” she exclaimed, “while parents are desperately trying to find alternative formulas that are often difficult to procure. This is not a Third World country, this should never happen in the United States of America.”

The White House says it’s working to help formula makers speed up production and fight price gouging and maybe bring more foreign formula into the country.

Gov. Kathy Hochul said the state health department has been trying to identify sources of formula MINO is hoping to tap into what may be a big stash of formula in the pantries of some new parents.

"If you have a child who’s weaning off of formula," Wehrle said, "and those cans are still sealed, and in date, to donate them to MINO so we can get them out to the community. We’re meeting needs as best we can. If we can only provide one can of formula, we do. If not, we try to offer them suggestions for other places. But it’s tight. It’s tough."

The state health commissioner suggests that families try checking with smaller drug stores to see how their supplies of formula are.

She also says to check with your child’s doctor to see if maybe you can give your baby different kinds of formula to broaden your options. Click here for more suggestions from the New York State Department of Health.