A Hanford mom says she desperately searched for baby formula for her 8-month-old daughter before finally getting some amid the nationwide shortage.
“We had been looking for a couple of weeks cause I knew we were running out of the formula that my daughter likes,” said Hannah Miedema.
Her effort included scouring social media, asking friends, family, and Facebook groups for help, and driving to stores throughout the Valley.
“We ended up shipping some in from Costco. It took a couple of days to get here, but we finally have it. But it was a hard four or five days between when we ran out of formula and we were just desperately looking everywhere,” Miedema said.
Infant milk is in short supply all over the United States, threatening mothers and babies who depend on it.
The shortage is due to a combination of factors from supply chain issues, to product recalls, to historic inflation.
In February, Abbott Nutrition recalled several major brands of powdered formula and shut down a Michigan factory when federal officials began investigating four babies who suffered bacterial infections after consuming formula from the facility. Abbott is among a handful of companies that produce baby formula in the U.S., so the recall wiped out a large segment of the market.
CBS News reports that 40% of the top-selling baby formula products have been out of stock at major U.S. retailers since April 24.
COVID Prompted Using Baby Formula
Miedema tested positive for COVID while she was 35 weeks pregnant with her third baby. She caught pneumonia, and Miedema’s doctors had no other choice but to perform a C-section.
Miedema said she had no trouble breastfeeding her first two children, but after the harrowing ordeal of delivering her baby sooner than expected and going on a ventilator from COVID-19, it was all but impossible to breastfeed her third baby.
“I was in a coma for a couple of weeks, so that’s why I couldn’t breastfeed and by the time I got out, it had been like two-and-a-half to three weeks,” said Miedema. “But since I had the baby, my body was working on healing itself instead of making milk.”
The baby usually only takes Similac for a gentle tummy because she can’t take dairy.
Miedema says that before receiving formula from a friend and the shipment from Costco, they were checking for baby formula at stores in Hanford, Lemoore, Visalia, Tulare and Clovis.
“I talked to a couple of mom groups because I’m really big on social media, so I kept posting on Facebook and Instagram and asking people to look for it,” said Miedema.
“I checked in with a friend who’s in Arizona right now and she said they only have the soy formula at her store as well. And just mostly nobody had the kind that we were looking for.”
Fresno EOC Has Baby Formula
Individuals scouring store shelves and social media for baby formula should contact a pediatrician or call a local food bank to see if they can help locate some baby food options.
Experts also recommend checking with smaller stores and pharmacies, which may still have supplies when larger stores run out.
However, finding specialty formulas for babies who can’t take dairy or have food allergies can be difficult.
Low-income families that qualify for WIC — a federal program similar to food stamps that serves mothers and children — can contact their local agency.
According to Stephanie Buelna, Fresno’s EOC WIC assistant director, the organization has been receiving about 10 calls per week from families seeking baby formula.
“We have heard from clients who are struggling with the formula shortage,” said Buelna. “We have worked to help locate formula for these clients and also worked with CDPH WIC on getting additional formula shipped in.”
Luckily, it appears that the situation is starting to improve for those needing specialty formulas, said Buelna.
“If any of our WIC clients are struggling to locate formula, please call us (559-263-1150) so we can be made aware of supply chain issues and work on our end to help locate formula for our clients,” said Buelna.
Tips from WIC for Moms Searching for Baby Food
- Call the store before you go to see if the formula is in stock.
- Call WIC if you notice supply issues at multiple stores.
- When all WIC benefits have been spent for the month, consider purchasing generic brands of the same formula you already provided your baby.
- Generic formula can be purchased with Cal-Fresh or with the client’s own funds. However, WIC benefits cannot be used to purchase generic formula.
- Be aware that stores may be limiting purchases to 2-4 cans of formula per day.
- Consider purchasing formula when you are down to 1-2 cans, knowing there may be shortages.