ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — It’s been weeks since a major baby formula plant resumed production, and multiple shipments have been flown into the U.S. from overseas. However, many families remain in crisis over not being able to find the type their baby needs on the store shelves.
Supply chain issues aside, thousands of families with infants seek help from food pantries. The strain of the formula shortage that started in February adds another level of difficulty.
On top of that, even with some progress made in production restarting at the Abbott plant in Michigan, families caring for babies with medical conditions face another hurdle.
“If they have special needs or allergies, people are having a really hard time finding those specific formulas at the stores they normally go to,” said Natasha Pernicka, Executive Director of the Food Pantries for the Capital District.
Pernicka said many families who qualify for assistance through the Capital Region USDA’s Women, Infants, and Children programs (WIC) aren’t able to transport to several stores to check if they have the formula their baby needs, and face a lack of support networks to help them search.
“It’s creating a huge strain on families who don’t have a lot of resources or time,” Pernicka said.
The Food Pantries came together with some area nonprofits, health care organizations, and WIC to form a Capital Region Formula Task Force to help streamline the increase in requests for these specific formulas. The task force encourages families to look around online, call your doctor or insurance company, call multiple stores, and join social media groups that have been set up to find formula, along with several other options.
“If families go through the process of trying to identify, and are still at a loss, please don’t give up. You can call the food access referral line,” Pernicka encourages.
The same number can also be used if you need information about food and diapers, and can help connect you to the nearest food pantry.
Food pantries like the one at Trinity Alliance in Albany have small inventories of formula, and if your need goes beyond just assistance finding it, and you’re unable to pay, the Food Pantries will provide it like they would with a typical pantry service.
Pernicka said they’re hearing some families who do have resources are stockpiling specific formulas. She encourages sharing some with pantries if you’re able.
“We would be really grateful if you wouldn’t mind helping us all out a little bit right now as we get through this challenging time,” she added.