CONNECTICUT, USA — A baby formula shortage is putting stress on parents just trying to feed their children.
"There's so much anxiety in the parents, rightfully. When a child cries of hunger that is one of the strongest feelings of concern that one can have," said State Sen. Dr. Saud Anwar, chair of the Committee on Children.
The Connecticut General Assembly's Public Health and Children's Committees hosted a forum Tuesday to help address some of the questions families might have about the shortage.
Including, what's being done about it?
"The solutions will come from the federal level," Anwar said.
President Biden announced this week the U.S. will be allowing more baby formula imports and the Abbott Nutrition plant that closed because of contamination concerns will be re-opening.
However, neither of those things is expected to bring relief for families any time soon. So in the meantime, the forum highlighted what can be done right now.
First, reach out to your pediatrician for help finding alternatives, instead of trying to make or find your own.
"It's concerning, we're worried about unsafe alternatives that families may turn to. Such as cow's milk, goat milk, almond milk, and diluting baby formula. All of these alternatives can be dangerous and harmful," said Dr. Molly Markowitz, with Yale New Haven Health.
For families who are part of the Women, Infants, and Children program or WIC, The program has made some changes to try to make the baby formula more accessible.
"Including the temporarily expanded WIC formula list which is available on our website. We know that families are struggling to find baby formula in stores and so we are also providing information through our WIC shopper app which many of our families use," said Marcia Pessolano, the state WIC director.
Non-WIC families can also use some of those resources which can be found here.
The Office of the Attorney General is encouraging parents and caregivers to only buy the formula from trusted brands and retailers and to look out for and report any instances of price gouging.
"Whenever there is scarcity of a product as important as baby formula, the risk increases for price gouging," said assistant attorney general, Jeremy Pearlman. "If somebody suspects that formula could be tampered with or stolen formula that's another area that we are going to be examining closely," he said.
You can file a complaint here.
If you are out searching for formula, you're encouraged to call stores ahead of time for information.
The Connecticut Food Association said its members are prepared to help in that regard.
"You can always call the store, someone is going to go check. And then you can always go to the courtesy counter and say look this is the type of formula I need, can you please give us a call when this comes in and they will give you a call," said Wayne Pesce, president of CFA.
In response to the forum, senate Republican leaders Kevin Kelly and Paul Formica released a statement that reads:
“Babies without food is a national emergency, not a problem for parents to solve. It is heartbreaking, infuriating, and unacceptable that parents across our nation are struggling to feed their babies. On top of the formula shortage, food prices continue to rise as family budgets are already pushed to the limit. Connecticut families need relief, they need a government that is focused on solutions to make life more affordable and ensure that basic core necessities are available to all families. How could the White House allow our nation to get to this point? Washington is failing our families and our children."
“We appreciate the efforts of our colleagues in the state legislature, especially on the Children’s Committee and Public Health Committees for working to get information out to parents that may be helpful. The reality is we need so much more. Parents should not have to face the challenges that they are confronting to simply feed their children.”
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