Lubbock families, organizations working to feed babies amid formula shortage

Published: May. 11, 2022 at 6:21 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The nationwide baby formula shortage is growing more severe. One Lubbock mom calls it a national security concern, with the out-of-stock rate at a staggering 43 percent.

The shortage started earlier this year, when the FDA shut down a major manufacturing plant in Michigan, Abbott Nutrition, and recalled three of it’s major brands of formula. That shutdown, combined with supply chain issues, scalping and some panic buying, has made it hard for families on the South Plains to find formula to feed their families.

Lubbock mom Victoria Whitehead used to buy her 8-month-old’s formula through the Target drive-up app. Now that task means driving around to every big box store in town to find only four cans of what her child needs.

“It’s honestly adding kind of an additional layer of what I have to do to find food for my child,” Whitehead said. “And because we’re not able to look online and in apps to see stock and supply, you have to physically go to stores.”

Due to a milk allergy, her son needs hypoallergenic formula. Whitehead found an off-brand that works for him, but after the shortage began, it disappeared from the shelves. She has to buy the name brand now; one can last her son about two days, costing her $70 more a week.

“God has blessed us to where we can actually afford the name brand, but you know, my heart goes out to mommas. I mean this is about $130 a week,” Whitehead said.

The South Plains Community Action Association is working to help struggling families find formula that works.

“They have added barriers that other families might not have, whether it be limited access to child care, whether it be transportation resources. They don’t have the time to go searching for seven hours in a day for formula. They may not even have a grocer that’s available in the neighborhood that they live in, so,” SPCAA Communications Director Samantha Mendoza said.

Mendoza says SPCAA’s WIC program has temporarily expanded the types of formula that are covered.

“Similac Advance brand is very hard to find right now and it’s one of the major brands. So, off brands, Parents Choice for example at Walmart, is covered,” she said.

The program serves parents and children from infancy to the age of five. Mendoza says those years are critical in terms of health and development for children. The program helps make sure families have the resources they need to make sure that their babies and children grow and develop to their fullest potential.

Whitehead posted her struggle to find formula on Facebook to raise awareness and ended up with people across the country searching for her.

“And I think that’s awesome, but formula off of other shelves is formula out of pockets and out of the houses of other mommas,” Whitehead said.

She says moms have been helping let each other know when stores are stocked and selling or giving away formula that didn’t work for them through a Facebook page.

Mendoza says you can also find that community through SPCAA.

“Of course we want to just emphasize to all of our clients if they have questions, if they have concerns, if they want to vent even caller offices, that’s what we’re here for,” Mendoza said.

Mendoza says the organization doesn’t want parents to try and make their own formulas at home, but if you have any questions about substitutes to give them a call.

You can find WIC’s formula substitutions on its Texas website on the Special WIC Food Updates Page and the WIC app. The site includes expanded WIC formula benefits, along with any updates regarding the recall.

Parents can also apply to become a WIC client on the SPCAA WIC Website.

Parents can also stay updated on the recall through SPCAA’s Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok accounts.

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