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Valley community, Health Dept. looks to help struggling families in search of baby formula

Posted at 8:53 PM, May 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-14 10:20:40-04

If raising a newborn wasn't already hard enough, finding baby formula has added to that challenge.

The State Health Department put out tips for families struggling with formula, while places you may not suspect are looking to help.

A combination of recalls, high demand, and supply chain issues have left baby formula shelves empty at retailers throughout the Valley and across the country.

At a Super Target on 7th Street in North Phoenix, a sign hanging from empty shelves read "due to limited supply, we are limiting the purchase of baby and toddler formula to four (4) per guest transaction."

"I feel sad," said Starr Stamp of Phoenix. "A mother would be panicked."

Before the formula shortage made headlines, Stamp inherited five cans of specialty formula from a family member who was moving.

"She was going to throw them away and I said, 'No, don't throw that away there's babies that need that,' not realizing the shortage was going to happen," she said.

After seeing coverage on ABC15 about a mother struggling to find formula, she asked us where she could donate what formula she has.

We asked food banks and community providers and learned that many parents and caretakers are asking one another on social media groups.

Some area churches are taking formula to give to families in need as well.

Starting Monday, all 19 Earnhardt Auto Dealerships across the Valley will accept all sealed, non-expired formulas that may go unused at home.

If you drop off any formula, look for the St. Vincent DePaul box near the front.

"The specialty formulas are where we're seeing more of an impact," said Carla Berg, deputy director of state health services at the State Health Department.

In a blog she penned Friday, Berg suggests families struggling to find formula to first ask their pediatrician about alternative options.

"Maybe the first option they're most familiar and comfortable with isn't available, but we can identify what options and alternatives they may have that would work best for their child," she said.

She also suggests families look for FDA-approved alternatives beyond the supermarket, including ordering online directly from the manufacturer.

The state also has a hotline parents and caretakers can call to be connected with formula alternatives.

Berg says don't try to make baby formula on your own.

"There could be some safety implications with making your own baby formula, for that reason, it's just very important to look at those FDA-approved options that could be available," she says.

Abbott, a major U.S. manufacturer of baby food issued a statement Friday following a widespread recall which worsened the shortage challenges.

One key note stated Abbott has "been working to address the FDA's 483 observations so we can restart operations at the Sturgis, Mich., facility. We immediately began implementing corrective actions and subject to FDA approval, we could restart our Sturgis, Mich., site within two weeks."

The Michigan factory was shut down after a federal investigation started amid reports of infant illnesses and deaths from products from that factory.