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How the baby formula shortage is impacting Virginia moms

Posted at 6:55 AM, Apr 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-15 11:15:36-04

RICHMOND, Va. — Bare shelves and high prices are bringing turmoil to parents looking for baby formula for their children. Retailers across the U.S. are reporting almost 30% of the most popular baby formula products are out of stock following a widespread recall of Abbott products in February.

For Central Virginia parents, the problem is only getting worse as they search for specific brands and find people price gouging online.

Jill Bradford of New Kent is a foster mom to a 5-month-old baby girl with medical needs, and she requires an amino acid-based formula.

Right now, Bradford said she has less than two days supply of the formula she needs.

"We've called the WIC office," said Bradford. "We've called Thrive, which is a supply company. We've called every hospital system in the state. I've contacted personally, every Kroger, Walgreens, Walmart and CVS within the tri-cities area."

Bradford noted she found eight cans of the formula the child needs on eBay, but it's being sold for $800. These cans typically cost between $43 and $47.

She has even considered getting donations of breast milk, but she said the closest bank is in Norfolk.

"We talked to the doctors in the hospital, and they said, start diluting the formula, which is not ideal," Bradford explained. "I'm just hoping and praying that the FedEx truck arrives with some formula for me."

Meanwhile, Richmond nonprofit Urban Baby Beginnings said they’re also struggling to help new moms who are worried about not being able to feed their children.

"We know that our babies first food is going to be breast milk or formula," said Stephanie Spencer, Executive Director of Urban Baby Beginnings. "And so when you can't go to another option, there's just no feeling in the world or situation in the world is going to fix it other than making sure that you can provide for your child."

Some parents who are able to find the baby formula their child needs are struggling to pay for it, as CBS News reports the average cost of the most popular baby formula products is up as much as 18% over the past year.

Urban Baby Beginnings is doing its best to connect local moms who may have extra formula or formula another mom needs, but they admit, the shortage is making that extremely difficult.

"It does take a village," said Spencer. "So let's just put all of our heads together to figure it out. And hopefully we'll come out of this crisis sooner versus later."

Walgreens, CVS and Target recently put limits on how many baby formula products consumers can purchase at one time to try to keep inventory on their shelves and ensure product is available, but it seems they are still running out.

"Other companies were making ventilators for people with COVID," said Bradford. "I think there should be some way that the government can say to factories, like a food factory, start making this formula. We need it. It's desperate."

Bradford said she's even contacted her local representatives like Congressman Rob Wittman to try to find a solution.

A spokesperson for Reckitt, maker of Enfamil, told CBS News they’ve taken steps to ramp up production and are currently shipping 50% more product to address the issue as fast as possible.

Urban Baby Beginnings is encouraging moms who have formula that hasn't been opened and isn’t expired or recalled to call them at 833-RVA-BABY, and they will help get that formula to a family in need.

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