Parents and caregivers may continue to feel panic across the country, after seeing store shelves cleared of baby formula for months. So, is the shortage having a big impact in the Fresno area? Click here to find out what Fresno EOC WIC is hearing from families and how the program is sharing new options for purchasing powdered formula.
The recent baby formula shortage may have parents feeling anxious about feeding their infants, and the shortage is expected to last several more weeks. However, there is good news. The government is airlifting tons of formula to the United States from other countries, a factory that produces almost half the powdered formula sold in the U.S. is re-opening, and WIC is allowing clients to purchase alternative brands of baby formula.
Annette Thornton is the Program Director for Fresno EOC Women, Infants & Children (WIC), which serves families in the Fresno and Clovis areas. She says the concern has slowed a bit, for now. “We’re not getting as many calls as we did a few weeks ago. However, it’s a hardship for those with transportation issues because they might go to a store and not find the formula they need. And so, they’ll need to drive around to other stores. We’re trying our best to contact stores in advance, to see what they have available for our clients.”
The initial cause of the formula shortage was COVID-19-related supply chain issues. The problem was exacerbated when Abbott Labs, a major formula producer in the U.S., shut down production at its Sturgis, Michigan plant in February. The shutdown followed a Food and Drug Administration recall, due to possible bacterial contamination.
Depending on a child’s age, they may need up to ten cans of baby formula, per month. For those who are not breastfeeding, WIC is able to provide formula benefits to help clients with the cost, as baby formula is pricey. For example, a 12.5-ounce can of a popular brand goes for about $20. WIC can issue an electronic benefits card to clients, which may be used at WIC-authorized stores. WIC does not carry baby formula in its offices.
There are now new options for WIC families searching for baby formula. Those who are unable to find their regular formula in stores, can now temporarily get newly-approved brands. Annette says, as of June 1st, the State and the USDA are allowing WIC to provide baby formula brands outside their standard formula list. “This is new information. Participants can now get other brands, and it has been opened up to the largest variety that I’ve ever seen. So, we’ve been directing our clients to the state website, where they can find alternative brands. For example, if their benefits say they were issued Enfamil Reguline, they can click on that brand on the website, and it’ll show you all of the brands that you’re able to get now. And that website is www.myfamily.wic.ca.gov.”
For the safety and wellness of infants, WIC discourages families from diluting formula or trying to make their own, as these practices can be dangerous. If clients continue to struggle to find a specialized formula for their baby, they can ask their health care provider about other options. Registered Dietitians are available at WIC to help navigate client questions as well. Fresno EOC WIC’s Customer Care Center is open from 8:30am to 5:30pm Monday through Thursday, and Fridays from 8:30am to 4:30pm. Text 1-888-412-5922 or call (559) 263-1150.
Fresno EOC WIC provides healthy food, nutrition education, breastfeeding support, and family resources to more than 27,000 women, children, and families in the Fresno and Clovis areas. If you’re pregnant, or a caretaker of a child under age five, you can get personalized support for you and your family at one of five WIC offices across Fresno and Clovis. Fresno EOC WIC has nutrition experts who speak English, Spanish and Hmong.
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