Illustration by Whitney Griffith

What’s the formula?

Families in desperation in shortage

Families all across the United States are being left without the proper formula to feed their children, and keep them full and healthy. In the midst of the pandemic and the consequent economic disruption with inflation, the global supply chain just couldn’t keep up. 


While there is high demand, according to Bloomberg News, a delay in shipping and shortage of labor has really affected the scarcity of baby formula—but more so the recalling of a particular formula.


Abbott Laboratories’ powdered instant baby formula was recalled due to reports of bacteria growing inside and making babies sick. This tainted formula could lead to meningitis and sepsis—precisely what you don’t want your kids to experience at such a vulnerable age.


The shortages are wreaking havoc, especially for families with specific baby formula needs. Imagine your child needs a certain formula due to an allergy—things aren’t just bad, they could be dire. 


Finding the right formula is crucial. As Ashley Maddox, mother of two, told The Guardian, she navigated this troubling time by creating a Facebook group for people in her area. By connecting with parents and other concerned people, she’s able to find the right formula in a timely manner.


“I connected with a gal in my group and she had seven cans of the formula I need that was just sitting in her house that her baby didn’t need anymore,” Maddox explained. “So I drove out, it was about a 20-minute drive, and picked it up and paid her. It was a miracle.”


With the power of the internet and social media, parents are to connect and overcome the worry about shortages at stores. While social media can induce a perpetual sense of FOMO (fear of missing out), it can also bring together people in need.


While some parents have been lucky, being resourceful in this instance might not always be a good thing. Diluting baby formula can actually be harmful due to the lack of nutrients going into the baby’s system. While it may seem like the right thing to do in this survival situation, it is less likely the baby will be healthy, happy and ready for the next time they eat.


It seems like Congress is already tackling this headfirst. One bill passed in the House would provide $28 million in emergency funding to help speed up the production process, though 12 Republicans voted against it. The bill was passed 231-192, but it is clear some are against a bill that will supply baby formula on short notice to families in dire need.


The bill not only speeds up the whole process but will also work with the FDA to ensure that future shortages don’t happen. It will also prevent potentially harmful products like the initially-recalled formula from entering the U.S. market again. 


Other bills are still in the works, but, all and all, this is great news on relatively short notice. However, with the recent response from the Republican Party, the road to getting more bills passed for the baby formula shortage might be a bumpy one. 


Having a fast response to this crisis is definitely a breath of relief for many families. I like to think that things in life can’t get any crazier, yet it seems I’m proven wrong every day. 


If you are a parent out there and are struggling with finding any baby formula, rest assured because the formula—quite literally—is on its way.